One wizard's trash is another wizard's treasure. The Commander players buy the precons and we Highlander players swoop in and pick out all the delicious playables. Right?...Who am I kidding, we buy the precons too.
Ok, let's see what we have this time round:
I had to look this up but really I should've known, given all the dissenters and dissenting in the late Amonkhet.
Like so many cards on my set reviews, Kess is powerful because the cards she can recast are powerful. Time Walk is especially strong since it gives you another rebuy from the graveyard.
Kess would probably still be playable if she was a 2/4 without flying. A 3/4 flying body really pushes her to the level of 'build around'.
My first thought when I saw Mairsil was, 'Time Vault in a cage, that's infinite'. 'Griselbrand in a cage' was my second idea. That one's more likely to go off since you won't need to wait for summoning sickness to wear off.
Regardless of what you intend to cage, there's a chance your opponent will be able to remove Mairsil in response to his ETB trigger. I can't imagine any opponent would wait to see what's in the cage first. At least exiling the card from your hand is a 'may'.
Mairsil is designed to work as a commander, so even if he leaves play and returns, he will still have access to all his cages. Also, you can only use each cage once per turn, so no going infinite with Morselhoarder and Devoted Druid, for example.
Much like Taigam's duality between the Jeskai and Sultai, this card could either be playable or unplayable. I'm finding it hard to tell. I think I just spent five minutes thinking about it.
I'm going to say that he's an ok sideboard card for combo decks, particularly against counterspells. Imagine you're playing combo and game two your opponent boards out their creature removal. Not only do you have a decent 3/4 body to block and attack with, all your cantrips and dig spells rebound. Then when you eventually find your key instant/sorcery, it's uncounterable. Hmmm, this could all be wrong though, since Taigam is still just a four-cost spell against two-cost counterspells.
This is the card I'm most excited about from Commander 2017. Not because it's the most powerful (I think that mantle goes to Kess) but because it might go in one my favourite decks, Death & Taxes. I'm also excited about all the "but who's the secret player?" jokes that I'll get to make.
Stalking Leonin is excellent against big green creatures, which are the bane of Death & Taxes. Stalker forces your opponent to have removal or not be able to attack. A 3/3 is an OK blocker too, so your opponent can't low ball you with attacks from smaller creatures.
To get the most value from Stalking Leonin, you'll want plenty of evasion creatures. Otherwise you'll probably just stall the board whilst your opponent waits to draw removal. You will also want to play cards to protect it, like Mother of Runes and Mental Misstep. On occasion your opponent will have enough board presence that they won't mind attacking into Stalker. In this situation, cards which reset Stalker like Restoration Angel, can be a blowout.
Strategy aside, did this creature really need to be an archer? I mean it's a frickin lioness stalking in long grass. Cummon! It's like an aven with a jet pack.
Wizards spent so many years training us that cats have flash. This one happens to have it but recently many have not. I've had multiple opponents try to flash in Prowling Serpopard against me.
I regress, this is not a Cat Snake but a Cat Cleric! And a very political one at that. If knew more about political philosophy I'd know who's face to photoshop onto Alms Collector.
This card is also a great option for Death & Taxes. Some combo decks rely on drawing lots of extra cards and this will probably cause them to fizzle. You may also catch the occasional Brainstorm effect or Sylvan Library. Pretty funny with Consecrated Sphinx.
Restoration Angel (she comes up a lot) has already burned into people's minds that four untapped mana equals flash 3/4, so don't expect to get any flash combat blowouts, unless they're attacking with Gnat Alley Creeper.
Flash still makes this decent against counterspells despite being four-cost.
Ghostway on crack. The dream is five mana, cast Balance holding priority cast Teferi's Protection.
This card has a bit of utility: counters sweepers, counters Tendrils of Agony, you can block then cast this to fog. None of those are good for three mana but they're handy if you were already playing Teferi's Protection for other more powerful interactions.It's funny that no one knows how phasing works and therefore don't like it but once a phasing card becomes good, everyone is forced to learn how it works and therefore isn't bothered by it anymore. The reason phasing was taken out of print is because it's too difficult to keep track of what's phased in or out, but if the phasing isn't recurring then it's not too bad.
Even if you don't do tricks to attack each turn, just connecting once is a pretty good rate. Burn decks are gonna play this card just for the first hit.
This isn't really playable but I'm giving it an honorable mention. Play a bunch of cheap token generating effects, e.g. Bitterblossom. Beginning of your upkeep your faerie token becomes Emrakul and attacks!
Enter the Infinite. Either way there'll still be a turn where gobbo can be killed before doing his tricks.
Making a token instead of simply taking control gets around the risk of your opponent bouncing their card back to their hand, which is nice.
This card probably completes Stephen Campbell's dream of a chain of six card interactions to break the rules of magic: something, Arlinn Kord + Enchanted Evening + Opalescence + Mirrorweave, something, something.
This is no Fractured Identity but I have built a couple aggro decks that coincidentally played a lot of vampires. There aren't any vampire tribal cards worth building around so I don't advocate playing vampires for the sake of vampires but like I said, some black aggro decks could sideboard this.
Goes infinite with The Locust God.
Curse of Shallow Graves against control decks, e.g. Blue moon; because they struggle against enchantments. I decided against it because there's a chance they could keep me from attacking at all. I can still imagine this being good though. It's an upgrade on Curse of Shallow Graves because it produces untapped zombies.
Open the Armory is OK in Skullclamp decks and can tutor for Curse of Disturbance.
The Tabernacle at Ascot Vale, which is a store in Melbourne that occasionally runs Highlander tournaments. Gonna have fun playing these curses against him.
Also, he's paying off!
Construct tribal anyone? It's worth noting that you don't need to be very tribal for Heirloom Blade to be ok. In fact, it can act as a tutor if you are careful with creature types during deck construction and can sacrifice the equipped creature.
Chalice of the Void
Chief of the Foundry
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Scuttling Doom Engine
Foundry of the Consuls
Tower of the Magistrate
Cavern of Souls
City of Traitors
Seat of the Synod
Tree of Tales
Vault of Whispers
The Great Furnace
Crucible of Worlds
I've played artifact stompy deck for a long time and it produces lots of great games. There are a lot of directions you can take it. Constructs is just one. The deck is very powerful when you get your fast mana. If you don't draw your fast mana however, you'll need to fight for your win.
Ok! that does it for this set review. Ixalan feels so close due to the early spoilers. Next big Highlander tournament is the 2pm mox-a-licious side event on the Friday of nationals. I'm already preregistered for it. If you're going up for nationals you should play the Highlander too! Will be a great event.
Hopefully see you on the glorious field of battle!