Lorwyn: A Review in Commons

Five of the Princes of Pauper — 53N531, Eegag, icarodx, Polyjak, and khirareq — dissected the newest set to hit MTGO, taking a look at some commons sure to make a splash on a table near you. Without further ado: click the link to Read more…

LORWYN’S WHITE, reviewed by 53N531
Here is white, in all its….yeah I can’t even finish that with a straight face. White pretty much sucks in this set. Lets hope it gets better in the future.
KINSBAILE BALLOONIST – Staple – This card is actually not half bad, and can set up some devastating board positions if given even the slightest of chances. At first glance it might not seem that explosive, but your opinion will most certainly change when that 5/5 Keldon Marauders is suddenly leaping over your measly saproling tokens.
SPRINGJACK KNIGHT – Role Player – I personally like the card a lot, however the way this format is shaping up, I’m thinking the number of one damage effects that are likely to get played are far too telling a tale for this card to be taken seriously.
OBLIVION RING – Flagship – This is probably the best removal that white has available to it currently. It hits anything pretty much without fail and no amount of pump effects can save your pathetic creature, nor will you be able to raise it from the dead. With the death of Orzhov and Nightwalker, the format’s emphasis on enchantments is looking like less of a priority, so the probability of you running into relevant hate towards the card is unlikely, and all the better for the white mage, who is more or less shafted elsewhere.
JUDGE OF CURRENTS – Role Player – With the ability to gain life just for the cost of tapping, perhaps there might be a way to exploit this ability somehow….Perhaps only time will tell.
AVIAN CHANGELING – Role Player – Funky as it looks, the flying changeling will similarly adapt to virtually any deck in the format given a little tweaking, and its fabulous typing allows it to benefit from any tribal strategy; I’m looking at you slivers. While it obviously lacks any combat abilities, it could be a welcome addition to many decks.
NECK SNAP – Role Player – White decks typically don’t need that much removal to be able to take control of a game, and with such cards as Oblivion Ring and Sunlance, what little room the color needs to fill with removal is already spoken for. Too expensive for even the most lavished upon spellcasters, Neck Snap will likely only be used as a backup sideboard card in a minority of decks to attempt to shore up their matchup percentages against fatty-heavy decks.
DAWNFLUKE – Unplayable – Jesus Domina Christi, fluke is right! Why would you ever hard cast this creature? If you are forced to cast this as a blocker my friend, you have already lost; you might as well concede. Given that, you might as well just run Healing Salve for the instant-speed combat trick.

LORWYN’S BLUE, reviewed by Eegag
While it is probably the best blue card in Lorwyn, Faerie Trickery is not a FLAGSHIP because you can’t exactly build a deck around it. It is, however, the definition of a STAPLE – it will be seen in almost every blue deck, despite the double blue in its casting cost. In a format devoid of good graveyard removal spells (Shred Memory, Cremate, and even Castigate are gone), yet full of spells the abuse the ‘yard (Grim Harvest and Flashback spells populate the format’s best returning decks), this counterspell is going to be a necessity for some.
Now this is a FLAGSHIP. With such an abusive ability – come into play, draw two cards – and such a good card to abuse it with – Momentary Blink – the deck almost builds itself. The only question is will blue/white decks find enough power to draw into, or will they need to add a third color? Regardless, Mulldrifter will be played, extensively, as a control finisher and as well as an aggro-control card advantage monster.
I wavered on this one. I think it’s better than many are giving it credit for, but it just isn’t up to the level of a STAPLE. In a way, it’s a mini-Foresee: you can dig three cards deep (even four, in a way), you can get the card you need out of those three into your hand, and you can ship all of the cards you see back into the deck if you want to. Yeah, you don’t have as much choice, but this spell only costs U, as opposed to 3U. In a blue deck that doesn’t have a lot to do early, it could set up your draws for turns two through four nicely. In decks like that, ponder could play a big role.
In blue, a 4/4 common is a rarity – especially one with a nice ability. In a deck where you can abuse CIP abilities, AEthersnipe becomes even more deadly. Don’t let its lack of evasion fool you – this 4/4 can still beat down if it needs to. Usually, however, it comes down, bounces a creature that you can later counter, and holds the fort while your fliers swing in overhead. With Blink, it can be a huge swing: two creatures retuned to your opponent’s hand, and a 4/4 ready for action on your side.
While not spectacular, a counter is a counter – and Broken Ambitions is a counter. Blue decks in need of another will play it. Otherwise, I think there are better choices in the format: Logic Knot, Rune Snag, etc. Frankly, that’s about all I have to say about it.
At first I rated this creature as a ROLE PLAYER, but it has the potential to be so much more. In a deck with a few other Faeries – OR Changelings – Spellstutter Sprite is incredible. With just one other Faerie in play, it counters so many heavily played cards, like Grim Harvest, Sprout Swarm, Deathspore Thallid, Momentary Blink, Skred, Terror, Rune Snag, and Remove Soul. Even IF it doesn’t counter a spell, it’s still a 1/1 flier that you can play as an instant, which isn’t bad in a blue deck. If the format is ripe for it, I think Spellstutter Sprite could make a huge impact.
Pestermite will be included in decks to boost the effectiveness of Thieving Sprite and Spellstutter Sprite. On its own, it is average – a 2/1 flier for 2U that can be played as an instant is good, and the ability to neutralize an opponent’s creature for a turn is good. Put those abilities and you have a solid creature that improves other good creatures around it. While this is the story for a lot of Lorwyn, Pestermite is a step above a lot of the UNPLAYABLE chaff.
I wanted Merfolk to be playable and, even though I hear rumors of some promoting a possible Merfolk aggro-control deck, I just do not see one developing. This creature is too slow and to weak for the payoff. Boosting a Merfolk’s power AND making it unblockable with the same ability might have made Streambed Aquitects worth running, but separate those abilities and it isn’t quite good enough – which is the story of most of the Merfolk (and, for that matter, many of Lorwyn’s tribal cards).

LORWYN’S BLACK, reviewed by icarodx
These faeries are machine guns! They will play many times as a Pauper black Goblin Sharpshooter, wiping out the enemy’s army. As a Johnny/Spike card, it requires you to build your deck around it, but don’t worry: there are plenty of options. From crazy CA engines like Mystical Teachings and Sprout Swarm to good control tools like Think Twice, Cancel, Terror, and Flash creatures, almost anything you would throw in a deck that aims for the long game has synergy with this monster. Just keep in mind that it’s vulnerable and that it needs to survive until your opponents turn, and sometimes until the next one, to make a swing in the game.
Just replace your Last Gasps with this and you’re good, right? Almost completely right. But there a few situations where the diferences will slap you in the face. And the only ones I thought of involve Aurochs Herd, Errant Ephemeron, and Watcher Sliver. You may find it difficult to remove your opponents’ Aurochses and Illusions during combat the same way you did with Gasp without being hit hard in the face or trading 2-for-1, but you may find this useful to pump your own Aurochs to deal the last few points of damage. Even if Watcher Sliver is one of the few cards vulnerable to the Changeling clause, black mages are delighted by the possibility.
You’ll surely see this guy as a better Gravedigger. While it costs 1 more, it has a very desirable +1/+1 bonus and a more relevant type at the moment. Me? I like to see him as a better Izzet Chronarch, packing graciously a good body with interesting CA in a splashable way. Just beautiful. Considering the poor creatures that black currently has access to at this cost (i.e. Bog Serpent and Mass of Ghouls), I expect this guy to be a very sexy choice as a late game card for black mid-range or control decks… at least decks based on creatures, of course.
Heir to Shrieking Grotesque or redundancy for Ravenous Rats? Just comparing the stats, I’ll stay with the latter, since a flying 2/1 will be missed forever, but the inflated cost comparing to the Rats is worth the evasion, the possibility to work better in multiples, and being in a single color. However, in a deck full of cheap faeries, this little girl will be a nightmare to control decks, especially when clearing the way for the aforementioned Witches. Just like the Witches, she has a weak point: dying while her trigger is on the stack.
5- FACEVAULTER – Role Player
Father of the new black aggro decks and brother to Festering Goblin, with the cost of Carrion Feeder and the bonus of Nantuko Husk but different from both. While he is worse than his older relatives because of the narrowness of his ability, he is still powerful considering the synergy between him, very good low cost goblins, and the new breed of goblins that are “happy to die for the cause” — Mudbutton Torchrunner and Hornet Harasser. Ignore him early and risk being smashed in the face later.
Looking at Bone Harvest, you can argue that this won’t see much play, especially with Grim Harvest still providing crazy CA in the long run. But in a tribal environment it may be useful to restock key tribal guys (I would guess Boggarts and Faeries) late in the game. It has nice synergy with Clash as well, as stacking Adder-Staff Boggart above Warren Pilferers with a Lash Out in hand is a very positive scenario. I need to mention that this card is superior to Recover as well.
7- MOURNWHELK – Role Player
Both costs are a little over the line for my tastes. I can see people trying this one along with green (or Elemental) acceleration but even the decks that could run it for the amazing CA have better options that don’t die to the most common removal. Blinking it would be very greedy though…
BOG HOODLUMS – Unplayable
Dross Crocodile costs 3B! Why in the earth I would pay 2 more for a creature type and a Clash ability while losing half the usefulness in combat? Craaaaaaaap!

LORWYN’S RED, reviewed by Polyjak
This card, and perhaps Soulbright Flamekin, are potential pieces in an Elemental aggro/combo deck. There are a LOT of playable Elementals in Standard right now — it’s one of the most viable tribes, next to Slivers and maybe Faeries — and I’m sure somebody will crack the code on an Elemental deck, sooner or later. It’s also exciting to see red get an early creature that taps for mana, even if that mana is only useful for limited purposes. In Block, this card may really come out of its shell.
The different modalities of this sweeper spell are both a hindrance and a curse; but, nonetheless, with the departure of Rain of Embers, it’s all we’ve got to work with in the “bad Pyroclasm” category. At least it doesn’t hit players. It also allows for a ground army to knock weenie fliers out of the sky, and vice versa. Just watch out for Lumithread Field…
As I wrote in the RDW thread, the Inner-Flame Acolyte is the best Suq’Ata Lancer yet! Unless you have a better use for her, she’s a hasty 4/2 on her first turn and then a 2/2 every turn thereafter. She’s great in mono-red and I can see her being Evoked onto fliers, Shadow creatures, or anything else with evasion in other archetypes. She even shines in Boros Blink, if that’s a direction players are still willing to take, as perhaps the first aggressive Blink target, and a fine replacement for our beloved Skyknight Legionnaire.
This is a great aggro card. 2/1 is pretty much the norm for red 2-drops, but this card has the potential to be a 3/2 on turn two. That’s nothing to shake an adder-staff at. Also, Clash allows you to dodge an unwanted draw, which in red-heavy aggro decks is very important. I’ve tested this guy and found him to be quite threatening to my opponent.
LASH OUT – Role Player
As Sensei mentioned to me, “6 damage for 2 Mana is hard to pass on.” That’s true enough, and in a mid- to late-game deck using red, this might be the correct choice over more straightforward burn spells. However, to me it seems a bit gimmicky and clumsy when stacked up against Incinerate, Skred, or even Rift Bolt — all spells that are darn good at doing what they do. This card strikes me as sideboard material at best in Standard RDW. Still, Lash Out will find play in decks meant to abuse the Clash mechanic, and it will be incredible in Lorwyn Block, perhaps defining the experience of a red mage in that format.
I see this card as a role player in a small set of decks. He doesn’t have evasion, he doesn’t have a big butt, but he does come down at any time, and he has firebreathing. He may fill the role I originally pegged Henchfiend of Ukor in… a quick mopper-upper after a board-wipe or mass land-destruction. Still, even in RDW, I found myself cutting him to 2 copies. I see this more as a late-game card, despite his low casting cost. Eegag said he was scared of this card, but at times I was more scared of drawing it.
My last playable review today is Soulbright Flamekin. I’m putting this guy on the lower end of the playable scale, not because he’s bad necessarily, but because his applications are extremely narrow, and he’ll only find play in one or two archetypes. Getting that kind of red mana for 6 Mana could turn the Flamekin Brawler into an 8/2 trampler, or maybe two Flamekin Brawlers into two 4/2 tramplers, etc. This card seems to be most at home in the new R/G Mana Storm deck, if one proves still to be competitive in the new format.
NEEDLE DROP – Unplayable
Recently, MaRo wrote that red commons were the hardest subset of cards to design for, because so much of red’s slice of the Color Pie has already been mapped out. This card is a brilliant demonstration of MaRo’s point.

LORWYN’S GREEN, reviewed by khirareq
ROOTGRAPPLE – Flagship – When was the last time Wizards printed Creeping Mold at common? Never? What about cantrip land destruction? No again? What about an instant speed chain of acid? No? I guess this card is worth considering if you’re playing green, then. Really, the cantrip effect is just gravy; this is a strong, versatile card even without it.
ELVISH HANDSERVANT – Staple – Pauper’s very own Vinelasher Kudzu, this is the green card from the set that everyone is trying to break. It is also one of two green commons in the set to depict someone cleaning a house. Are there any cards outside of Lorwyn that depict housework? I guess you could say the set really cleans up magic. You can use this to clean your opponent’s clock. There’s no cheating in Lorwyn – it’s always a clean fight. I could do that all day, but you’re already groaning so I’ll stop.
LYS ALANA HUNTMASTER – Staple – One of two common “build around me” elves, this creature will have elves leaping out of the woodwork (heh.) Wonderful if you have need of a bunch of tokens. Or you want to make a massive saps style attack with some sort of pump effect. Even better, he doesn’t have to wait 3 turns to make his first creature token, unlike those irritating plants. Could this creature enable Spore Cry v2? Let’s hope not.
BATTLEWAND OAK – Staple – While people are busy figuring out how to make Elvish Handservant into an Elephant, they are forgetting how easy it is to make this guy into a Giant Angry Tree. For example, Turn 2 suspend Search for Tomorrow, Turn 3 Battlewand Oak, Turn 4 Unsuspend, Get Forest (+2/+2), Play Forest (+2/+2), Play Mwonvuli Acid Moss (+2/+2), swing with a 7/9 beater. Something worth considering.
ELVISH BRANCHBENDER – Role Player – This is the other “Build Around Me” elf card. It gives you the ability to turn one of your forests into a giant treefolk, with the caveat that you’ve got to have a bunch of elves in play to make it giant. If only elves were a little tougher…
WOODLAND CHANGELING – Role Player – Wizards has fianlly created a Mutant Ninja Turtle that’s green. Woodland Changeling is going to be the “grease” that makes a lot of tribal decks possible at this point, such as G/X Giants, Aurochs, and slivers.
LIGNIFY – Role Player – Hopefully this is wizard’s way of making up for the whole Piracy Charm/Utopia Vow thing. A solid piece of removal in that it shuts down both activated and triggered abilities, and usually makes it pointless to attack as well. Plus, it’s got the best flavor text in the set.
ELVISH EULOGIST – Unplayable – Wow, this would be great with dredge! Wait…rotated out you say? No dredge elves anyway? Uh, okay, how about with…ummm…oh, just play Essence Warden.

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