THS: Updated evaluations

I’d posted my initial evaluations of the cards in Theros several weeks ago. Since then, I’ve updated several of my valuations based on experience with the format and the analysis I’ve posted here. This spreadsheet lists my current valuations and the original valuations. (Valuations that have changed are highlighted.) I’ve used the same evaluation key as before: B for bomb, + for exceptional, / for good, ~ for situationally playable and filler cards, S for sideboard cards, x for cards that are unplayable in most circumstances, and ? (TBD) for those requiring further evaluation.

Too many of my evaluations have changed for me to explain each one individually, but here’re the general themes:

  • I’ve updated several of the cards that were marked TBD based on analysis during the intervening weeks.
  • White and red cards that target creatures have gone up in my estimation because of how powerful R/W heroic decks are.
  • I value equipment less because it does not target a creature when cast, and so is often inferior to enchantments, which do target the creature.
  • I value enchantment/artifact removal less because I’ve often found myself in situations with no targets (or no good targets) on the other side of the board. I’ve marked all such cards as sideboard cards for now, but I’m going to crunch some numbers later this week to determine whether my experiences might have been atypical and whether I should perhaps start running them maindeck again.
  • I value a lot of removal less, especially expensive removal like Sip of Hemlock and Rage of Purphoros. I also value Last Breath less because the 4 life is often very relevant if you’re playing an aggressive R/W deck.
  • On the other hand, cards like Leonin Snarecaster and Heliod’s Emissary that let you deal with creatures temporarily while adding a creature to the board have gone up in my estimate.
  • I value large creatures without monstrous less, unless they have flying or very useful abilities. On the other hand, I value Nessian Asp a lot more; 4/5 and reach can completely shut down a lot of aggressive decks.
  • Heroic triggers that don’t result in a +1/+1 counter have gone down in my estimate because that does not enable those creatures to keep attacking on subsequent turns. This is especially true for white and red creatures since those colors tend to be more aggressive.

THS: Evaluations

This is an initial set of evaluations of the cards in Theros. Here’re what my various evaluations mean:

  • Bomb (B): Will usually win the game if not dealt with and also difficult to deal with or play around, e.g., large flyers or mass removal.
  • Exceptional (+): A superior card that will turn the tide in your favor, e.g., most unconditional removal that isn’t overcosted or a 3/3 flyer for 4 mana.
  • Good (/): The bread and butter of most decks, e.g., a 2/2 flyer or a vanilla 3/3 for 3 mana.
  • Situational/Filler (~): Good in the right deck, filler in most others, e.g., a vanilla 2/1 in a deck that is not particularly aggressive.
  • Sideboard (S): Useful to have in your sideboard, but not usually playable maindeck, e.g., artifact/enchantment destruction or color hosers that aren’t good if you’re not playing against those colors.
  • Unplayable (x): Should not be played except in the right deck or under exceptional circumstances, e.g., a vanilla 1/1 for 1 mana. Some unplayable creatures can be sided in against the right deck, e.g., a vanilla 1/3 for 3 mana might still be sided in against an aggressive deck.
  • TBD (?): Requires more analysis or more experience with the format to evaluate, e.g., a card that depends on how many playable enchantments there are in the format.

M14: Updated evaluations

I’d posted my initial evaluations of the cards in M14 several weeks ago. Since then, I’ve updated several of my valuations based on experience with the format and the analysis I’ve posted here. This spreadsheet lists my current valuations, the original valuations, and the reason for the change. (Valuations that have changed are highlighted.) I’ve used the same evaluation key as before: B for bomb, + for exceptional, / for good, ~ for situationally playable and filler cards, S for sideboard cards, x for cards that are unplayable in most circumstances, and ? (TBD) for those requiring further evaluation.

Most of the cards whose valuations have changed were originally TBD:

  • I have had good experience with the W/B enchantments deck, so Ajani’s Chosen and Blightcaster are exceptional and Auramancer is good (it is mostly good with Quag Sickness).
  • I’ve been less impressed with the W/B lifegain deck, so Angelic Accord, Congregate, Sanguine Bond, and Trading Post are situationally playable, and Dawnstrike Paladin and Soulmender are unplayable.
  • The mill deck requires multiple Millstones or some of the rare/mythic cards, so Traumatize is good and Tome Scour and Millstone are situationally playable.
  • B/R has enough sacrifice interactions that Act of Treason and Barrage of Expendables are good.
  • Hive Stirrings and Sliver Construct are playable if you have enough good Slivers and so are situationally playable. (Sliver Construct is also a good sideboard card against black or red decks with multiple intimidate creatures.)
  • Door of Destinies is situationally playable in either a Slivers deck or a W/B Humans deck.
  • Xathrid Necromancer leaves behind a 2/2 when killed and can be nuts in a W/B Humans deck, and so is exceptional.
  • Advocate of the Beast is situationally playable because an average draft will have only 7 Beasts, all of which are likely to be highly picked by non-Beast players. It can be picked higher if you already have a few Beasts.
  • Dismiss into Dream is unplayable due to its mana cost and a lack of reusable targeting effects in M14.
  • Domestication is good but not exceptional because M14 has many effects that can increase a creature’s power.
  • Zephyr Charge is situationally playable if you’re short on win conditions.
  • Strionic Resonator may be situationally playable in a U/R control deck since it has enough triggered abilities.

Of the rest, there are 7 cards that I value more, 1 card I value less (Blessing), and 1 card that I’d considered unplayable that I now think requires further evaluation (Pyromancer’s Gauntlet). The cards I value more are:

  • Griffin Sentinel went from filler to good because it is surprisingly good when enchanted Mark of the vampire, Dark Favor, or even Divine Favor in the W/B enchantments deck.
  • Merfolk Spy went from unplayable to sideboard because it’s a reasonable sideboard card against other blue decks.
  • Dark Prophecy went from exceptional to bomb because very difficult to win if your opponent has a few creatures and has this on the board.
  • Quag Sickness went from playable to exceptional because the W/B enchantments deck is strong, tends to be heavier black anyway, and can regrow Quag Sickness using Auramancer.
  • Ogre Battledriver went from exceptional to bomb because it can dominate the game if unchecked.
  • Howl of the Night Pack went from filler to exceptional (the only card that has moved 2 spots) because it has proved problematic when played against me.
  • Fireshrieker went from filler to playable because it has proved problematic when played against me.

Blessing went from filler to sideboard because the W/B enchantments deck tends to be heavier black and have access to more cost-effective Auras. However, it can still be sided in against slower decks since it can take over a game under the right circumstances.

Finally, there are still 5 cards are still TBD; I will attempt to evaluate them in subsequent posts:

  • Archaeomancer: This should be playable at least in U/R control decks.
  • Frost Breath: This might be playable in U/R control and U/G mill decks.
  • Seismic Stomp: This might be playable in U/R tempo decks.
  • Gladecover Scout: This might be playable if you have the right Auras.
  • Pyromancer’s Gauntlet: I’d initially considered this unplayable, but want to see whether it might find a home in a U/R control deck.

Also, my valuation of Academy Raider and Elite Arcanist may go up if the U/R control deck turns out to be good, and my valuation of Fortify may go down if there isn’t a good archetype that wants it.

M14: Evaluations

Magic 2014 Evaluations

This is an initial set of evaluations of the cards in Magic 2014. Here’re what my various evaluations mean:

  • Bomb (B): Will usually win the game if not dealt with and also difficult to deal with, e.g., mass removal or large flyers.
  • Exceptional (+): A superior card that will turn the tide in your favor, e.g., most unconditional removal that isn’t overcosted or a 3/3 flyer for 4 mana.
  • Good (/): The bread and butter of most decks, e.g., a 4/4 for 4 mana or a 2/2 flyer for 3 mana.
  • Situational/Filler (~): Good in the right deck, filler in most others, e.g., a vanilla 2/1 in a deck that is not particularly aggressive.
  • Sideboard (S): Useful to have in your sideboard, but not usually playable maindeck, e.g., artifact/enchantment destruction or color hosers that aren’t good if you’re not playing against those colors.
  • Unplayable (x): Should not be played except in the right deck or under exceptional circumstances, e.g., mill effects or a vanilla 1/1 for 1 mana. Some unplayable creatures can be sided in against the right deck, e.g., a vanilla 2/4 for 4 mana.
  • TBD (?): Requires more analysis or more experience with the format to evaluate, e.g., a card that depends on how many playable enchantments there are in the format.