Janne's OGW German Highlander review continues!
Five mana to Threaten a creature is not great even if it comes with 3/1 haste body attached. It can
do reasonable damage if the stars align and they aren’t that hard to align in this case. I just don’t
know how much you want this over Zealous Conscripts. Eldrazi Obligator doesn’t combo with
Splinter Twin and cannot steal anything other than creatures. What it does better is to allow it to
be cast for three in case it is needed.
Three mana 3/1 haste is not a massive deal, but it is the clear plan B of Eldrazi Obligator and
sometimes you just run into combo matchups where the one toughness doesn’t matter and the
fast clock it provides is quite the good thing. This is actually quite a massive upside as it makes
Obligator much more versatile than other Threaten effects.
Like I stated before, it cannot combo with Splinter Twin as it triggers when cast (and requires
mana), but that can also be a good thing. It doesn’t matter if they counter this if the kicker was
provided, you still get the effect. Still, that seems to be relatively small upside and I have to ask my
obligatory question regarding this card: What deck would want to play this? You need to be able
to provide colorless and you are somewhat aggressive. This is not an effect for any kind of
defensive strategy, but the full price is too much for most aggro decks. Furthermore, if you only
plan to cast this with three mana, you are overpaying. If you have sacrifice effects, Eldrazi
Obligator is not too bad, but I have serious doubts steal-your-guy-and-then-sacrifice-it-for-much-
victory is a viable deck. Still, if you have some ways to sacrifice creatures in your deck, are playing
red and colorless, Eldrazi Obligator starts to become quite good.
I would give this a straight up fail, but the three mana option is very good against decks without
creatures, so he is never going to be exceptionally bad.
Six mana walker that does not protect itself? Did I miss something? Did Wizards miss something?
And why is it always Chandra that gets this horrible treatment. Or red in general (Hello Mr. Tibalt)?
I mean sure, it sweeps... kind of. But you better hope that there are no creatures left afterwards in
any relevant zone your opponent has or you are down a walker. First ability is needlessly
aggressive for a six mana spell, but it allows you to pretty much declare that the game is going to
end next turn if you play this on an empty board. The thing is, cards like Inferno Titan do that
already and that guy sees virtually no play. Inferno Titan actually does better at defense in a
normal board state as well. Also that card can't be attacked to death.
Six mana sweep for three is sadly not very effective. If you can craft a board state where that
matters, then bravo. The thing is, six mana planeswalker shouldn't ever need pre-setup to be
good. While this is technically a way for Chandra to protect herself, it is costly and most likely
leaves her with a very little loyalty left. This makes her susceptible to manlands or red spells.
Let's compare this to Elspeth, Sun's Champion for a second. Elspeth also sweeps, if needed, but
she also protects herself afterwards. It takes some serious board state to kill her after she
resolves. Being able to simply chump or even trade with three guys is tough one to crack. Chandra
can do the sweeping, but she needs help if you want to do something other with her. Best
scenario I've come up with is sweep into the middle ability to find more sweepers or removal and
kind of utilize Chandra as a card advantage machine. I guess she is not horrible, but that is
assuming you can kill everything and they have no way of removing the now very fragile
She is pretty aggressively powerful if there are no creatures around and she resolves, but you can
really expect most games of magic going like that unless 0-X bracket is your happy place. The
average situation on turn six is anything but. Most likely both players are playing more creatures
still and jockeying for position.
Sadly, I fear this incarnation of Chandra just doesn't quite get there. Six mana is a lot and if you are
not casting Elspeth with that, you need to convince me with something I've completely overlooked
One mana cantrip might be worth something. Giving haste is generally not too valuable, but it is one more spell that replaces itself and can surprise-kill your opponent in tandem with Kiln Fiend or something. I assume that is not a deck, but that is merely an assumption. The more love Wizards give to the prowess mechanic, the more support that deck generally gets. Prowess being evergreen mechanic nowadays, there is a non-zero chance that can eventually be a full-fledged deck.
Channel-Fireball combo can now kill twice the players.
Very good body from a creature with a good ETB. If you are rebuying Lightning Bolts, you are
overpaying slightly if you compare Goblin Dark-Dwellers to say Flametongue Kavu. In fact, most
reasonable red spells you can cast with this are not amazing. When you add another color(s)
things start to get interesting. Ancestral Vision is obviously the big payoff and yes, Goblin Dark-
Dwellers is really good then. Simple cantrip is not good enough, but even cheap blue spells like
Preordain or Ponder might very well be just fine. Certainly better to cast this targeting Ponder
than letting five mana to go waste. Anything above that in card-advantagewise and we are talking
about a good deal.
So, I don’t think this is a great card in monored decks. There is one exception, though. Goblins do
have ways to find him and that alone makes Goblin Dark-Dwellers pretty good in that deck. Just a
very nice bit of versatility. Especially if you play multiple colors in your goblin deck.
Other than that, he needs blue spells and there is a competition for five mana. Thundermaw
Hellkite has become a format staple and for a good reason. This obviously being better card if your
opponent has removal or other contingency plan for simple beaters, so depends what problems
your five drops need to answer. I am hard pressed to find a scenario where this is actually
horrendous and rebuying really good spells makes this really annoying for opponents.
I think this is going to see play, but since we do have other options like aforementioned ubiquitous
dragon, Sarkhan, the Dragonspeaker and few other decent options, the amount of play time
granted to Goblin Dark-Dwellers can fluctuate wildly depending on personal preferences and
metagames. Still, it is powerful enough for sure.
Just don’t go casting Timetwisters or Wheels of Fortune off this. Not because it is not sweet, but
because then the deck you are currently piloting has zero focus.
That is a really sweet play, though.
Verdict: Format Staple
I don’t think there is a combo with this, but it can technically be part of an engine. Just pointing
that out, really nothing you should bother yourself with if you have no bizarre way of going
While both abilities are perfectly acceptable, getting both triggers once is not usually massive.
With the right setup it can be exactly what the doctor ordered, but most likely you will want
something more. More problems arise when you try to find a decent deck for those triggers. They
appear to be rather anti-synergistic as the first one kind of wants you to be controlling and the
latter just goes to the face. Naturally killing creatures to get yours through is aggressive deck's 101
and shocking opponents tends to kill or nullify opposing planeswalkers, so they can play both
sides. Sadly none of those factors are something you can really influence and you kind of just need
to hope everything pans out.
I don’t think bouncing this repeatedly is that powerful either, unless you can play this multiple
times on one turn, so that you can kill just about everything. Even then I feel like you went up and
beyond for relatively small effect. Sometimes the matchup just doesn’t come down to you being
able to kill every creature they play.
I am really struggling to figure this card out. Even with all the shortcomings, killing something for
two mana and maybe getting shock or two is quite a bargain for two mana. I really don’t know
with this one, but I feel like running Lightning Strikes or Fire Ambushes might just be better since
they reliably kill planeswalkers and I guess some players too. And we have enough Volcanic
Hammers to last a lifetime, I think. Only thing I am sure about is that this isn’t the best two mana
Oath in the game.
Original Bushwhacker was good for exactly the same reasons as this can potentially be. Too bad
that the trigger hides behind surge as paying three mana for this was injury enough, insult I could
really do without. I think that alone will make Reckless Bushwhacker unplayable. Kind of
borderline anyway and that just puts this one over the edge in my honest opinion.
If everything goes as smoothly as they can and you cast Gitaxian Probe with this on your turn five,
you have a slightly upgraded version of Goblin Dark-Dwellers in a monored deck. And that is the
absolute best case. Rest of the cases range from horribad to disaster. Stay clear.
Hitting a relevant permanent every once in a few turns is quite good in some matchups. This is
assuming this keeps getting dealt with. Sometimes they also will just take lethal damage from this
and there is very little you can do to stop that. Spoilsports.
Luckily the exiling happens when this is getting cast, so you can keep playing this over and over
again against control decks just to whittle them down. Naturally this is absolute garbage in aggro
matchups, but most seven drops tend to be.
Too bad this cannot be Natural Ordered into play, which can be something you might be willing to
do in certain cases despite the fact you don’t get the trigger. Just being able to smash few times
and when they deal with this, start the loop.
Naturally it takes a very specific deck if you want to break this card and even then it might just be
too weak in too many matchups to see play. I do applaud the interaction with Life from the Loam,
whether you are dredging this into the ‘yard or using Loam to get more lands, they do go very
I do want to try this in few ramp style piles I’ve got, but I am not having high hopes. I can,
however, picture the good scenarios so there is at least hope still in this world. Not going to pour
that hope into the rating, though.
Ignore the activated ability. If this ever sees play, it is because it draws a card when it enters the
battlefield. Sometimes abusable and straight up decent value when there are enchantress or two
in the mix. Still, I think this needed to cost a full one mana less for there to be an actual possibility
That is one big elf. Which happens to be the exact only thing that keeps this from being entirely
junk. Elvish Harbinger can find this and Wirewood Symbiote can keep abusing it. Still, it costs
whooping seven mana and has mediocre ability at best unless you are already winning (and you
have better elfs to tutor for in those situations). I don’t know if this something anybody should
bother with, but at least there is one deck that doesn’t immediately dismiss this.
And if this really starts to perform, whoever is being quoted in the Skyshroud Poacher’s flavor text
looks kinda foolish.
This looks like a card that kills just about anything with peak efficiency, until it doesn’t and then
you are screwed royally. Does hit Oblivion Rings and the kin, Blood Moon, Back to Basics, Swords
of Sadness & Misery and bunch of others. Then someone plays Humility and the party is over. I
think straight up Naturalize needs to be really versatile and this is kind of the opposite. Being
cheap is not that big of a deal if the cards sometimes just refuses to do what it is supposed to do.
Very good card in variety of other formats, but in HL, just narrow enough not to see play.
Poor Ajani Goldmane. Nissa is basically the same deal, except costs one less and is able to do
relevant stuff even when you are losing.
Three mana planeswalkers that are able to defend themselves are a rare breed, Nissa isn't quite
the powerlevel to just be included in every green deck, but she isn't that far off either. Basically,
you need to either have other uses for the tokens she provides or have a thing for anthems. I
especially like that she can use her -2 without dying right from the get go. This means that she can
force your opponent to have sweeper and then help you recover from it even if they do.
Obviously, she is amazing if your game plan involves creating a bunch of tokens.
Double green isn't as huge of a problem for green as it is to any other color in HL, so she is
deceptively easy to cast as well. I don't quite foresee her seeing play in very aggressive decks, but
slower decks will want to consider the option. Powerful in the right shell, for sure.
Any token deck will welcome her with open arms and most base green decks have a reason to at
least consider Nissa.
Verdict: Archetype Staple
Is this a green Ponder? Well, no. Or maybe it is, since green has no cards with similar versatility for
a single mana. I don’t know.
I like this about as much as I like Sleight of Hand if you have a deck that consists with decent
number of cards that you can't grab with this. And it is so much better the more battlefield
focused midrange build you go. I also have zero problem playing Sleight of Hand in decks that
might want to do cheap library manipulation as card selection is quite nice. I don’t see much of a
reason not to just jam this into all of those midrange goodstuffs.
Second ability rarely matters, but it might allow you to be less awkward with your fetchlands if you
are running 3+ colors, so it's not purely irrelevant. Just do not take that ability into account when
building your deck.
Overall, very good and simple card. I like.
Verdict: Format Staple
I just wish this returned anything. Now it is not horrible only in decks that really want to reuse
their creatures specifically. Losing this much tempo is also rather suspect. I feel you would be
better off with cards like Raise Dead if this is your thing as the six life doesn’t help too much if you
take a turn off just by casting this thing. I am just not impressed despite getting fetchland back is
something I’ve spend countless times doing with Eternal Witness. Witness however is easily
exploitable and can also pressure. There is nothing like that here.
Well, Plaxmanta hasn’t exactly been a powerhouse recently. This seems just plain worse. Costs more and
the +2 toughness Void Grafter offers isn’t what prevents Plaxmanta to see play, so I don’t think Void Grafter
And it doesn’t even pitch to Force of Will!
Vanilla test passed, but kind of barely. Deathtouch is quite a nice bonus, I’ll give her that. As a
sacrifice outlet, she does have decent stats and colors. The last ability is quite decent also, if you
can get to that, but meticulously working towards it might not be the way to go. Gaining life from
creatures that are about to die anyway is okay, but again nothing too amazing. I feel like Ayli needs
to be in the exact correct build as she does need a lot of synergy to really start to shine.
I am wondering if there is a decent build of aristocrats for HL. At first that seems like it is just a
worse way to build Patter-Rector, but little things like that has never stopped me in the past
either. Ayli seems like a natural fit there. I don’t think this is good in Pattern, though. Requiring
mana is kind of a big deal when you try to combo and I don’t think the deck needs the semi-decent
body Ayli has to offer.
It is no titan, but the ability is very powerful. If there is a deck that wants very specific things,
suddenly Baloth Null starts to become more reasonable. One Disentomb is not bad if that comes
attached to a decent body, double the value and I will get a lot more lenient when it comes to
stats. 4/5 is not great by any stretch, but it is serviceable. I just wish there was something more.
Trample or even reach. Being a zombie has its perks, so there are a bit more synergy you can
squeeze out of him there. This is Green Sun’s Zenithable as well, which is much bigger deal than it
might seem at a first glance.
I assume this needs a hefty bit of synergies to do enough good. In the end, Baloth Null is probably
too narrow and just lacking adequate power that I could recommend him without hesitation. I am
not hugely surprised if I find myself playing this in a serious tournament at some point, though.
Despite the rating.
Random Merfolk is random. Stats are weakfish (<- that was a typo, but I am going to leave it in there), but if
you are on the merfolk path and can produce red, he is going to get buffed up much more easily.
Ability itself is great. Provides its own fuel and starts to snowball eventually. Add Young Pyromancer or
some other good synergy piece and we are in business. Not that Jori really needs that necessarily, but you
are going to play those two in the same deck anyway, so a guy can dream, right?
For straight up Izzet decks, I think he is pretty amazing. In Jeskai he has a lot of competition, but I have faith.
Does depend on how many one and two mana spells you are willing to run, though. Cards like Opt get so
much better when you have Jori En, Ruin Diver in your deck.
Verdict: Archetype Staple
This is such a weird card. Really aggressive so the extra land every turn seems somehow off. I mean, it is
obviously there for the synergy with the second ability and enables landfall, but neither of those seem good
in HL. There aren’t that many good landfall triggers and giving trample is mediocre. Helps to push damage
through for sure, but I don’t want to pay for that. When you compare this to cards you get for the exact
same mana cost (Bloodbraid Elf and Huntmaster of the Fells) Mina and Denn do start to seem a bit silly.
I do not recommend you run this card.
I dislike Man-o'-War in Highlander. 2/2 body just isn’t efficient enough for the rather weak ability. This is a
good upgrade for that formula. Hitting the most expensive card on the table and them being unable to drop
that next turn is so much better than a simple unsummon.
If you hit their four drop with bounce, it is good only if they have no better creature to play next turn. With
regular bounce, they always had the option of just matching their last turn. With Reflector Mage there is a
chance they can’t play anything on their next turn and when they finally are allowed to re-cast that
creature again, it might just be rather horrible for their curve and they decide against it, or the card has
already been outclassed.
One extra toughness certainly doesn’t hurt this card, but most removal that cares about toughness still kills
this, so it is not that big of a jump as you might think. Still, it can attack through most utility creatures that
also cost three, so that is not irrelevant.
If you can reuse this ability whether by blinking or returning this to your hand repeatedly, I think he
becomes really good. I imagine Reflector Mage is good enough on his own as well, but you need to know
you want him. This ability is at its best when you are attacking, so he loses a lot of value when you are
purely defending. I also applaud the creature types. Both being relevant.
P.S. Riptide Laboratory says hi.
Verdict: Archetype Staple
Is it a bird, is it a delver? No it is not. The hype around this card seems a bit unreal. Really needs an extra
piece of power naturally, but that would up the mana cost. The thing is, it is really efficient, but we do not
have enough Ponders to keep him satiated and he gets outclassed pretty quickly, so this can’t be your only
source of damage or you are going to lose every race.
Not horrible on defense as one instant is enough to dodge a good portion of the red removal and put him
usually out of harm’s way in combat, but if your goal is just to sit with this card, there are better options
that doesn’t require you to leave open mana every turn and have those cheap instants rot in your hand.
I don’t mind being wrong here, but I just cannot really imagine this being much better than your
average two drop. It can be, but that is going to be because you are carrying him, and it should be the other
This feels like it just barely doesn’t have enough good things going for it. I’ve actually cast Crystal Ball (I was
both sad and embarrassed about most of my life choices while doing that), so I’ve been there. This
producing mana is a big thing, but I would have hoped this would do scry 2 instead of just the one. I would
have been okay if they even made the second ability cost one more mana just to get a bigger scry.
No use to scry over spilled milk, though. I am going to give this one a go in some stax decks, but do not
expect anything too big out of it. Three mana for one more mana is significantly behind curve, but then
again drawing non-lock pieces when you haven’t got the game locked up yet is horrible. Seer’s Lantern does
mitigate some of that.
I like this way less than I like Tendo Ice Bridge and I hate Tendo Ice Bridge. Having said that, sometimes you
need a way to fix mana. Maybe you have off the wall combo deck that just needs that and would even
consider running multiple bad five color fixers. With Crumbling Vestige you have one more option. I will run
this in a few decks for sure and even if I hate playing this, it doesn’t mean I think it is unplayable.
Yeah. It’s a dual that turns into a creature. Rather defensive ability, but will make opposing planeswalkers
feel a little more threatened even if the ground is clogged up. I am not going to spend too much time
speculating about this. If you run green and black and can afford ETB tapped duals, this is the best or
second best option you have. Temple of Malady being the other contender and in this case it actually feels
like a close race between the two. I think most dualmanlands are better than temples, but 2/2 is...
Verdict: Format Staple
These are really powerful abilities coming from a land. The real question is if the fact that it starts out
tapped and produces only colorless are reason enough not to run it. Most likely the answer is not to play,
but every once in a while you might want to get it out of the bench to do some work. Copying creatures is
usually going to better of the two as you can only target your own stuff means that you need a lot of mana
to replicate anything relevant and still have mana left to crack this. With creatures, you can actually play
them first and on the next turn make a copy. Naturally there are lot of risks as instant speed removal just
wrecks you and you also need colorless mana to activate this, so there are a lot of hoops.
If this were to come into play untapped, I would be much more okay. Even then there would be a lot things
that needs to go just right for Mirrorpool to really shine, but at least you would still have a land that taps
for mana. As it stands, you are paying hefty price and actually need to be able to activate this often enough
for a good effect for it to cement its slot in your deck. 95+% of the decks do not want this and rest of them
should keep a close eye on its performance. No matter how big critic I am towards this card, the fact
remains that it still is a land and it has extremely powerful abilities. That alone makes it deceptively good.
Boros traditionally being aggressive color combination will not always play Needle Spires. In fact, I assume
most aggrodecks choose not to. This is kind of a big strike against Needle Spires as the card is rather
aggressive and plays defensively only against small creatures. Not that you mostly want to use your
manlands defensively anyway, so that isn’t a huge deal.
Still, aggro-control Jeskai builds might just be okay having more ETB tapped duals. If that is the case, I think
I like this more than the temples. Especially if you have loads of instant speed removal that can clear out
the way at the end of their turn. Four damage from a land is big game. Demands an answer and makes it so
that planeswalkers that do not defend themselves are probably going to perish to opposing Needle Spires.
Still, I assume this is autoinclusion if your deck hasn’t reached the limit of ETB tapped duals and are playing
these two colors. The dual manlands have incredibly high floor and are decent even if you never activate it.
Verdict: Format Staple
Too bad affinity is not quite enough to be a deck in HL. I think it is close, but it needs more help. In order for
this to be playable, your deck better have majority of colorless creatures. Any kind of way to mass produce
colorless tokens are really good here.
I played the original Oran-Rief, the Vastwood in green decks back in the day, in those decks you really
wanted to play a mana dork on turn one, so there were a lot of draws when you didn’t want to play it at all to
mess up your curve. And when it was finally appropriate to play it, all my guys were already in play. This is
not necessarily the case with colorless decks as they do not have the luxury of turn one accelerant and
most colorless one drops are really bad.
Still, this too is a land that makes mana, no matter how narrow the abilities, there is always a chance that
this just is good in some random deck. Worst case scenario just isn’t that bad when you are able to use this
to actually play the game. Hence the not abysmal rating.
Well, this is miles less restrictive and still quite powerful than the examples above. But, you still need to be
able to unload the cards you have in your hand rather reliably, so you don’t get to play this in your “I will
just sit on my cards and say go every turn. Your move.” – decks. Decks like stax has usually no shortage of
ways to produce colorless and aren’t above trying to get all of tools in their hand into play.
Again, this is a card with high floor. It does mess lot of things up if you are running multiple colors, so this is
far from a free lunch in your typical deck. But, if your mana works and you regularly run out of cards
without winning or losing the game as a result of that, then this is a really powerful way to restock. Especially
great against any control deck.
Verdict: Archetype Staple
Same rules apply. If you can afford a land that doesn’t provide on the turn it ETBs and play blue and red,
you want this. Stats are mediocre and it doesn’t perform any insane tricks even if it kind of looks like it
does, but it is still rather annoying to deal with. Especially nice when you are attacking into a 1/1. Either
they chump or you deal 4.
Verdict: Format Staple
Even if Wastes is a Blood Moon proof, you probably want to steer clear if that is your only reason for
playing them, but having ways to generate colorless from Sakura-Tribe Elder can certainly be a good idea. If
you can’t search for them, Wastes is going to be something you can use to react to metagame. Important
piece to keep in the back of your head should it become relevant. And this is a way for you to play your own
Blood Moon in a deck with colorless cards, so do not forget about that, either.
My top 5 colors to try out in Oath of the Gatewatch
2. I know that isn’t a color
3. Including it anyway
4. Deal with it
This set is very unique in a good way. Time will tell if there just aren’t any playable colorless cards, but if
few of those are adapted, we have a decent contribution from this set. Too bad thematically colorless cards
are not going to appear in most sets, so it kind of saddens me that there might not be follow ups as these
type of cards will actually provide some really interesting deck building decisions in formats like HL. All of a
sudden there might just be much more reason to not jam 3-5 colors into a deck and not be giving up on
I find Oath of the Gatewatch to be one the most interesting recent sets for Highlander. I really hope that we
will also get something substantial effects to our format, but it is going to be an uphill battle as one set
generally cannot provide enough new cards to make this big of shift feasible. Doesn’t stop me from hoping
and trying (and failing).
Thanks for reading. Until next time.