Diving straight in. Here’s the Gatherer link.
Aeronaut Tinkerer: A 2/3 body for three mana is not the worst thing you could buy. I’ve played my fair share of Crackling Tritons in non-red decks. The flying buff for controlling an artifact is a nice bonus, and again, 3 toughness looks like a good number in this format. This is especially true for a (potential) flyer – it stops cards like Welkin Tern and Carrion Crows.
AEtherspouts: While holding up five mana into multiple attacking creatures is unlikely to go unnoticed by an opponent, the impact of hitting multiple creatures with this is quite significant. Even if all the creatures get put on top, the fact they only get back one at a time gains you a whole bunch of time. You can even possibly counter some scary ones on the way back down.
Amphin Pathmage: Solid limited finisher. Will probably target himself more then other creatures thanks to his 3/2 stats. I can easily see this guy being the reach for aggressive Welkin Tern decks.
Chasm Skulker: An obviously powerful threat. Skulker naturally scales and the card will demand an answer. The opponent might be able to avoid the tokens, between the bounce effects available and the exile on Pillar of Light. Still, the base body being reasonable and the potential bonus if it dies is more then enough to make him a first-pick.
Chief Engineer: This guy seems destined to do great things in Constructed more then Limited. That being said, I do want to give at least one Ornithopter Convoke before this set stops being drafted.
Chronostutter: Six mana is a lot, so casting this will be kind of clunky. It is a good catch-all answer to a problem creature, however, so I wouldn’t fault anyone for having one of this if they have no better answers available (eg, not in Black, or Blue/Red vs. a high toughness creature).
Coral Barrier: A reasonably tidy package for three mana. Both bodies will be able to trade with any aggressive X/1’s (Oreskos Swiftclaw), and the fact that you get two creatures gives this card even more value if you’re running a few Convoke spells.
Diffusion Sliver: Again, a card that will be fantastic when he’s at home with his tribe in Constructed. In Limited, this is a two mana 1/1. Pass it on.
Dissipate: A catch-all counterspell with a bonus that could potentially be relevant (Souls, Phytotitan, cards that care about creatures in graveyards). You’ll want this if you’re blue, so take it if you see it.
Divination: Back for another round at the limited tables. Card is fine, if not terribly exciting (unless you’re LSV). Grab them if you need them, but I wouldn’t value them too highly.
Encrust: This is as close to premium removal as blue gets. Locking something down and even stopping activated abilities? That’s about as good as killing it outright. Again, and I know I keep harping on about this, but it stops the Souls. Grab these highly, but don’t overload on them. I’d say three is the theoretical maximum.
Ensoul Artifact: I’d say this is probably a trap, since getting hit by any of the bounce in the format means you lose the aura (and even gets around the Darksteel Citadel). While we all want to live the dream of turn two attack for 5 with Ornithopter, I think in the long run we’ll find it’s just not worth it.
Frost Lynx: Looks like one of the strongest tempo plays in the format. I expect this cat to partner with Quicklings and Peel from Realities to lock down some troublesome creature in a great many games of Limited, preferably while Welkin Terns are beating down. Another premium common for blue, so take highly.
Fugitive Wizard: This one, not so much. You’d have to be scraping for your 23rd card to even consider playing the Wizard.
Glacial Crasher: I don’t get the flavor of this card at all. That being said, a 5/5 body is a much better size then anything else at common, and it even has trample! I don’t think you can run this card without being Blue/Red, however, as relying on your opponent for the Mountain seems like a shaky proposition.
Hydrosurge: Filler common. Ignore unless you’re desperate for a trick.
Illusory Angel: A 4/4 flying creature is enough to get my attention. While this does have a drawback, casting it on turn five with a two-drop is not the worst deal in the world. Besides, I’ll accept more reasons to run Ornithopter quite happily.
Into the Void: A “smaller” Sea God’s Revenge, and anyone who’s played Theros Limited can tell you how good that effect was. In a pinch, can also rebuy your own creature for enters-the-battlefield effects. Very solid card.
Invisibility: The cost is reasonably restrictive, and there’s enough of a Wall subtheme in this set such that it isn’t straight unblockable. Nevertheless, if you need a way to grant evasion to push through the last few points, you could do a lot worse then this.
Jace, the Living Guildpact: Most Planeswalkers are very strong in Limited, and Jace seems like no exception. He starts on a massive amount of loyalty, so will soak a lot of damage for you if an opponent tries to take him out. This one seems like you just want to go for the ultimate, but a free bounce in emergency scenarios will be relevant when it’s needed.
Jace’s Ingenuity: Solid for any control deck. While there will be aggro blue decks in the format that don’t want this effect, there will be other decks that do. While it likely won’t be as good as Opportunity in M14, this is likely still first-pickable barring a super fast format, which I don’t think this will be.
Jalira, Master Polymorphist: Another card likely to do more fun things in Commander then anywhere else. Running this card isn’t exactly terrible – you can cash in creatures for a random one if they’re about to die, for example – there isn’t a lot of cheating of mana costs going on here, which limits the power of this considerably. (And if you are running mono seven-drops, you likely have other problems).
Jorubai Murk-Lurker: Another exciting member of the land type cycle. Jorubai gives us a cheaper Pillarfield Ox, and an amazingly cheap lifelink activation. If you get this one active, it will be very hard to race. I’m excited to play with this one.
Kapsho Kitefins: Looks like the top-end for those aggressive Blue decks I’ve been mentioning. I like that it triggers for itself, as well. Definitely a potent finisher. Bonus points if you kill your Chasm Skulker after playing this guy.
Master of Predicaments: Five mana 4/4 flier? Already good enough. Playing mindgames whenever you hit your opponent? An excellent bonus.
Mercurial Pretender: Notably, this Clone variant can only target your creatures, which lowers his value quite significantly. He’s likely still fine, though, provided all your creatures aren’t just terrible (Hi, Fugitive Wizard).
Military Intelligence: Oh my goodness is this card pushed. It’s just two mana! It rewards aggressive decks for doing what they already want to do! It’s awesome! If you see this, you are obligated to pick every Welkin Tern you see afterward always.
Mind Sculpt: The “six Mind Sculpts” deck was a staple of M13 draft, and would randomly get people. This time there’s no Archaeomancer, but there’s… Satyr Wayfinder? Necromancer’s Assistant? Keep in mind you’re going deep if you pick this, but hey, that’s where the fun lies.
Negate: I’ve always been a fan of the one-of Negate to catch any problematic non-creatures. it’s especially good when you nab an opposing Planeswalker. They usually go late, however.
Nimbus of the Isles: Messenger Drake was unavailable for this core set, so here is his replacement. Still perfectly acceptable, of course, but the loss of value is mourned.
Paragon of Gathering Mists: This Paragon, in contrast to the White one, is likely more about the activated ability then the static buff. That being said, most of the blue creatures already have flying, and the idea of 3/2 Welkin Terns does sound appealing. This guy will be a solid addition to many blue decks.
Peel from Reality: Reads like a drawback, but blue has enough cheap creatures/creatures with enters-the-battlefield abilities that it isn’t much of one. Notably, this is the only cheap instant bounce in the set, so keep an eye out for it.
Polymorphist’s Jest: I soooo want to run this with Circle of Flame and just get people. This is still fine as a standalone card, however. Even a lowly Coral Barrier will eliminate a frog, so the blowouts caused by this card will likely be great.
Quickling: Flash flying 2/2 for two? That’s excellent right there. Once again, the drawback can be manipulated to your advantage, such as Frost Lynx, or saving a bomb from a removal spell.
Research Assistant: A poor looter is still a looter. Yes, the cost is expensive, but if the game runs long, the advantage you’ll get will outweigh that significantly.
Soul of Ravnica: Like the other Souls, a straight up Limited bomb. 6/6 flier for six? Deal. We get more cards, even if it dies? Why, you’re too kind.
Statute of Denial: I’ve seen most people dismissing this, but I’ve grown a fondness for unconditional hard counters since playing with Countermand. Granted, there aren’t nearly as many four-mana tricks to disguise it in in this format, but it’s still worth trying before outright rejecting it. The looting is reasonable upside, as well. Finally, I love how Wizards are sneaking Fblthp into more cards. It’s so good.
Stormtide Leviathan: It’s eight mana, but this one kinda reads “You win the game”. Obviously, you’ll have to ensure that all opposing fliers are removed and that you’ve baited out all there removal, but if that’s the case, Stormtide should close the game quickly.
Turn to Frog: A reasonable trick for Blue. Blue has a number of 1/3’s that can capitalize on the diminished size. Remember that this can kill fliers thanks to “loses all abilities”.
Void Snare: Seems built for the aggro Blue decks as a means of temporarily clearing blocks out of the way, given it’s nature as a sorcery. You don’t want too many of these, but the ones you have will probably do work.
Wall of Frost: You know your deck is durdly when you’re excited to mainboard Wall of Frost. Grindy control decks looking for the lategame are the only decks that want these, so seeing one is an obvious signal of intent. Will stall some aggro seriously well.
Welkin Tern: At last, he’s been name-dropped all over this article. Welkin Tern is the premier reason a Blue beatdown deck will even exist in this format. Vaporkin did a fine job in Theros Limited, and this guy looks like he has even more support around him. Be afraid of any deck with 3+ Terns. I, for one, will be trying it.
Notable observations from this review
– There’s no Essence Scatter: All the unconditional counters are three mana or more, so we don’t have to be afraid of casting creatures into two mana.
– Most of the bounce is sorcery speed: This was mentioned in Peel from Reality’s writeup, with Chronostutter being the followup instant bounce. Combat tricks are more likely to resolve as a result.
– Blue looks to be playing a more supportive role: Outside of rare+, there aren’t exactly a lot of high-impact bombs in the colour. Blue is likely going to be best supporting the strategies of another colour.
And that concludes the Blue review! Let’s move on to Black…