Monday, October 22, 2012

#MayaelFTW: Return to Ravnica review

Okay, it's time to share my thoughts on how the new cards affect Mayael the Anima. I've been playing Mayael for a long time now, and I'm still continually tuning my list, and there's a new batch of cards that could be worth adding. Let's get right to it.

Angel of Serenity

Right off the bat we have a sweet one! Angel of Serenity does something we don't have a lot of access to: it's a fatty that's also a multi-target pinpoint creature removal spell. Sure, we've had cards like Hateflayer, Living Inferno, Bogardan Hellkite, Admonition Angel--but none of them are remotely close to this level. Angel of Serenity offers a powerful, unique, useful effect at a reasonable cost with a healthy-sized flying body, and I feel comfortable pegging her as one of the best cards for Mayael to come out of this set.

Even if she dies immediately, you still get to bounce the creatures. And she can target your own creatures in your graveyard, too--they'll go back to your hand when she leaves play. There are also those ever-popular tricks to permanently exile the targets with instant-speed sacrifice or blink sorts of effects, if you're so inclined.

Basically, a great creature removal spell that is also a fatty. What's not to love?

Martial Law

This one I'm not so hot on. Basically a worse version of Prison Term, which isn't even particularly good. Not much to say here--it's overcosted and underpowered.

Rest in Peace

Now this is a hoser. It turns off all the graveyard shenanigans, past, present, and future, and it does so with merciless efficiency. My build is very light on graveyard interactions, so I went ahead and added this card, and it's been performing very well so far. There's always at least one deck at the table that wants to abuse the graveyard for loopy card advantage shenanigans, and loopy card advantage shenanigans are one of the easiest ways Mayael can lose. Rest in Peace shuts that down. It might seem narrow, but it's actually a lot more universal than you'd think.

If my deck were heavier on the shenanigans itself--like one of my past builds that played around with Death or Glory and Marshal's Anthem and that sort of thing--I might want to skip this, since it is symmetrical. But it's a big whammy against a very large portion of the field, and making unfair decks play fair is powerful.

If you run just about any white deck, you should strongly consider Rest in Peace.

Rootborn Defenses

Making the team indestructible actually isn't the worst. This is a little too much mana to pay for that effect, though, especially since so many fatties already have some sort of built-in resistance to ordinary destruction.

Chaos Imps

Vanilla flyer with only 6-7 power? Yeah, that's not gonna do it. If you're running Chaos Imps, it's because you have some very serious card availability issues.


Pauper interlude! I've played Incurable Ogre in Pauper Mayael with no shame, and Cobblebrute is strictly better. Cheap fat is hard enough to come by that this man should be a strong consideration in Pauper.

Guild Feud

Hoo boy, this card. It's pretty crazy. I am always on the lookout for wacky chaotic library effects like this one, and so far, I think it passes muster. It's nowhere near the power level of Lurking Predators, of course, but it does a good job of creating an exciting minigame.

The thing you need to understand if you're thinking about playing Guild Feud is this: you're not going to win every time. Some amount of the time, you're going to flip three noncreatures, and your opponent is going to get something awesome. Now, the Mayael deck has a lot of very good creatures, and the odds of winning are going to be pretty high. But you can't win them all. If you're not comfortable with that, don't play this card, because it will make you rage.

For my part, I'm happy rolling with it, rawdog-style. Random moments like this are what #MayaelFTW is all about.

Tenement Crasher

Pauper interlude! Another common fatty, and its stats are respectable, I guess, albeit nothing special. What's most notable here is that this is indeed a beast, which means it works with Wirewood Savage--not irrelevant. I'm not sure if it makes the cut, but it's worth thinking about.

Utvara Hellkite

This is an exciting effect, but I've been burned by Godsire before, and I'm not sure it's good enough on its own. I could be convinced, but my initial reaction is that it'll need dragon synergy to be worthwhile.

That being said, it's certainly not unreasonable for Mayael to run dragons. I don't know what critical mass is, but if you've got some number of big red flyers, you might do well to check this dragon out.

Also, shout-out to the token subtheme, which is getting more and more viable with each new set. Rith, the Awakener was never much of a powerhouse to begin with, but it's almost embarrassing how much worse she is than this guy.


Much like Rest in Peace, this is a nice hate card. However, artifact hate isn't at quite the same premium as graveyard hate, since there are a lot more options to choose from. Rest in Peace is easily the biggest and baddest of its category, but Vandalblast has steeper competition to contend with. Woodfall Primus and Terastodon already take out artifacts, and if you want to go real deep, you can also run Hoard-Smelter Dragon or Rustmouth Ogre. And those guys are creatures that work with Mayael. For noncreature spells, you've already got your mass removal suite, Akroma's Vengeance and the like. Oh, and Fracturing Gust, which is instant-speed, hits enchantments, and gains you life. Shattering Pulse only hits one thing at a time, but it's an instant, which is a big deal.

You get the idea--the market for artifact hate is very competitive and the slots are very limited. It's easy to hate on artifacts incidentally without dedicating a whole slot to it. Also, a large portion of the time, Vandalblast is only going to be a value card that you play as a 4-for-1 to set the opponents back on mana a little. That's good, but it's not exactly an essential effect.

I'm not ruling it out, but I don't think I want to spend a slot on this. I wouldn't fault you for including it if you're so inclined.

Deadbridge Goliath

The problem here, I think, is that it's essentially vanilla. 5/5 for 2GG is efficient, sure, but the Scavenge ability costs a hefty chunk of sorcery-speed mana. A lot of the time, Deadbridge Goliath is just going to be a 5/5.

I could imagine a build where "just a 5/5 for four" is good enough. Like an aggro sort of deal focusing on cheap fat, with Mayael as a late-game post-Wrath card advantage engine. And it's not a bad card. The Scavenge will be relevant in some games. +5/+5 on something with trample is no slouch, and it resets Persist creatures.

I imagine most versions of Mayael just won't be interested in it, though.

Worldspine Wurm

Here's a card.

There are a few other fatties already fighting for the "10+ mana unkillable creature" slot. How does Worldspine Wurm stack up? Well, I'm pretty sure Ulamog and Blightsteel are more powerful. However, they have the big drawback of being, uh, you know... unfun. They can be pretty miserable no matter which side of the table you're on. But Worldspine Wurm, not so much. It's a straight 15/15 trampling monster--good, clean, fatty fun.

Then there's Darksteel Colossus, who is more traditionally indestructible. I feel like Worldspine Wurm is the clear winner in that fight; 15 is significantly more than 11, and its token-making brand of indestructibility works better against sacrifice effects, which is a big upside. (Or with sacrifice effects, don't forget--Worldspine Wurm with Greater Good is quite the blowout.)

There's also those other Eldrazi, but they're all worse than Ulamog anyway, so meh.

You don't want to have too many eleven-mana creatures, but Worldspine Wurm seems like it's as good as they come.

Armada Wurm

Seems solid. Getting the token immediately puts it well ahead of Utvara Hellkite off the bat. And ten power of trample is a lot. Oh, and of course there's synergy with flicker effects and whatnot.

Yeah, pretty solid. I could definitely see myself running it and being happy with it. (And again, shout-out to the token subtheme.)

I wouldn't call it an auto-include, but it's good.

Trostani, Selesnya’s Voice

If you're looking for a four-mana lifegain creature with a big butt, Wall of Reverence is that-a-way. Populate is cute for that token subtheme, I guess.

Chromatic Lantern

Hmm, yeah, seems nice.

If you're in the market for a mana rock, I think this is worse than Darksteel Ingot or Coalition Relic. I also think it's worse than Selesnya Keyrune, but I could be wrong there.

You could certainly do worse, I suppose. If you want your mana fixed, Chromatic Lantern will definitely fix it. It works with Maze of Ith and Diamond Valley too, if that's your cup of tea.

So yeah, it's fine. Nothing special. Don't get too excited.

Selesnya Keyrune

I actually like this, as far as mana rocks go. The 3/3 body isn't impressive, but it is relevant--it can keep early attackers off your back sometimes, and it's cheap enough that you can activate it and still have enough mana for your Overrun effect when you alpha strike.

Mind, I'm not actually going to run it, because I favor land-based ramp. But if you like artifacts, I think this is better than the Time Spiral totems (if only by virtue of tapping for two colors).

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