It’s everyone’s favorite time again! Yeah, that’s right, it’s time for a new draft set, but this time it’s MTG Arena exclusive (fancy, I know). Once I finally escaped from all the trouble I got into in Streets of New Capenna, I started doing some scouting around Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate and I’m here to give you the inside secrets about the crazy adventures that await you there.
First thing to get out of the way, this is an alchemy set so some of these cards were designed for constructed. What’s that mean for us drafters? In the words of Emperor Palpatine, UNLIMITED POWER! I hope you’re prepared to slang some serious card action.
Here’s the usual grading scale:
- 5.0: Disgustingly powerful and basically unbeatable. Either answer it the turn it comes down or just pack up your cards. (Tovolar's Huntmaster, The Meathook Massacre, Starnheim Unleashed)
- 4.5: Incredible bomb that still gives your opponent a slim chance. (Adeline, Resplendent Cathar, Alrund's Epiphany, Grand Master of Flowers)
- 4.0: Great rare or the absolute best uncommons and removal. (Froghemoth, Morbid Opportunist, Skullport Merchant)
- 3.5: Great role filler or removal that you never cut. (Magic Missile, Cathartic Pyre, Battle Cry Goblin)
- 3.0: Good playable that I’m basically never cutting. (Usher of the Fallen, Search Party Captain, Dragon Turtle)
- 2.5: Decent playable and the bar I hope nearly every card in my deck to reach. (Mourning Patrol, Steadfast Paladin, Goblin Morningstar)
- 2.0: Mediocre filler that normally is your 20-23rd card(s). (Contact Other Plane, Mindleech Ghoul, Timberland Guide)
- 1.5: Replaceable, overall bad filler. Could also be decent sideboard cards. (Secrets of the Key, Spiked Pit Trap, Village Rites)
- 1.0: Bad filler. Gets cut most of the time. (Secret Door, Mystic Skull, Funeral Longboat)
- 0.5: Very unhappy to main deck this, but maybe it has fringe sideboard applications. (You See a Guard Approach, Bramble Armor, Compelled Duel)
- 0.0: Unplayable in every possible situation. (Mimic, Change of Fortune, Curse of Shaken Faith)
Bag of Holding
The Dungeons and Dragons player in me really wants Bag of Holding to be good. Unfortunately, it is really slow and expensive without a ton of payoff. I would still play it in a deck that wants to win in the late game and needs a way to get some card advantage, but that’s about it.
As it is, it’s almost impossible to race and all of your dorks become brick walls that trade with their best creatures. That’s a lot of action for a one mana artifact. I also bumped it up a little because being colorless makes it the card you most want to open pack one, pick one.
Don’t underestimate it, this card should not be passed.
While scry two isn’t quite the same as drawing a card, it is close enough that it’s not embarrassing to compare this to Llanowar Visionary. The colorless casting cost and ability to add mana of any color put it on almost the same level.
You can do so much better for six mana than an otherwise vanilla 4/4 flyer. If your deck is entirely bereft of top end threats and needs a way to finish the game off, then maybe consider this.
Cloak of the Bat
It’s always questionable whether you play the sets flying equipment, but by the end of the set I seem much more likely to slip it in there. I don’t think this should ever be more than a one off, but haste is a nice throw in.
This is definitely a contentious card with some people comparing it to the atrocious Sphere of Annihilation and others saying it’s one of the best wraths we’ve had recently. The answer is most likely going to be somewhere in the middle, but I’m leaning more towards the not that great side.
The biggest drawback is that the earliest you can force a wrath is your next upkeep with both you and your opponent getting to keep your best creatures. That’s great if they are going wide while you have one big monster, but not so much if they have the best creature on board.
I played a lot of AFR and in the entire time, this made the cut once and I was extremely disappointed at how bad it was. I was also ecstatic every time my opponent dropped this and it happened a lot more than you would think. I even died to it once, but it was the situation where I was so screwed I could have died to literally anything.
Basically this trades down, gets wrecked by first strike or huge creatures, and to top it off they don’t have the option on whether to attack or block.
Lantern of Revealing
A Manalith with some late game utility kind of reminds me of Network Terminal. It’s not nearly as efficient, but doesn’t require you to have anything else to get going. Totally fine in late game decks.
This will make the cut in just about everything and sometimes being able to pop off any permanent is just what you need. Seven is pricey for something that isn’t a huge bomb, but Nekrataal is still Nekrataal.
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to blink this a billion times to completely crush your opponents dreams.
Mirror of Life Trapping
If your whole deck is enters the battlefield effects then this can be useful. I’d rather go the blink route in that case. This is mostly just a slow, annoying card that otherwise says the last creature cast doesn’t get to come play until someone plays another creature.
You’re going to be five mana deep to ramp one and put a land in hand. Ignore this unless you are playing a crazy greed pile that can’t get any other fixing.
There is a lot of colorless mana fixing floating around and this is probably the best of the bunch. It lets you get the land of your choice and gives you a flyer to peck away with.
Sort of a free card since it replaces itself, you do still have to pay the mana so it does affect your curve. It’s nice if you have something like
Spiked Pit Trap
It’s still removal when you don’t have any better options. I’d say more, but you already know what you’re working with here.
I love all of these gates because they get you a guaranteed nonland late in the game when the last thing you want to see is another land.
Hitting playables shouldn’t be a concern in modern limited so the improvement between a basic land and this is usually much greater than the difference between two random cards you are debating over cutting.
The lack of other tapped lands in the set means that the drawback will be much more manageable.
Don’t play this, thanks for coming to my ted talk on this card.
Seriously though, you have to have another gate in play for this to be anything other than a colorless land. Then you get to pay two mana for an Unknown Shores. Nooooooppppppeeeee.
Alaundo the Seer
You can’t ever play lands off of this because they don’t get any time counters so they never have the last one removed. It also says cast instead of play.
This doesn’t give cards suspend so the time counters don’t remove themselves during your upkeep. That means that his ability is the only way to remove them so he needs to live the number of turns equal to the mana cost to actually get the card off of it. Considering the size of the bullseye on it, I doubt you should exile anything above three mana.
Outside of that it is a pretty decently sized body with a looter effect. I just don’t like the color combination that he is in.
Astarion, the Decadent
Lack of evasion is a pretty big deal on this because it could do some serious work otherwise. I think its best use will be to Warlock Class someone up out of the joint as surprise double damage can out right steal a game.
Just the very presence of it will put a bunch of pressure on your opponent.
Baba Lysaga, Night Witch
Another card that we are unsure of which version is going to be in the draft set. The difference is that the alchemy version has +1+1 and costs one colorless extra so I would prefer that one.
This card incentivizes you to play cards like Pilgrim's Eye so you have the option to trade in one of those and a land for a triple drain, draw three. As long as you can activate this, it’s pretty amazing.
Catti-brie of Mithral Hall
There aren’t many good equipment floating around outside of Basilisk Collar so despite all of this text this is usually going to be a 2/2 first strike reach for two mana. If I’m in those colors, I happily play that card, but I’m not going to play any subpar equipment just to enable it.
Gorion, Wise Mentor
I don’t think this is worth splashing unless you have at least five adventure cards to take advantage of it with. A 3/4 vigilance is a perfectly fine deal for three mana, but as a splash you have to assume it’s not coming down until turn five or later. It’s also not in the treasure colors so you really need something like Prophetic Prism to get it out early.
If for some reason you are already running solid these three colors, then go ahead and toss it in your deck.
Jan Jansen, Chaos Crafter
Treasure really makes this crazy little artificer go off. It’s a lot easier to cast with treasure and then starts turning all of your other treasures into two 1/1 creatures. You can even cycle out one of those 1/1s for two more treasures which begat four more 1/1s. Utter chaos I tell you!
Jon Irenicus, the Exile
Jon is either a personal Howling Mine or mills them until it turns into one. It would be insane if you could just choose which one you wanted, but it is still a great body for stalling the board until you build up enough advantage to win.
Kagha, Shadow Archdruid
This would be much better if you could cast what you mill with it until end of turn. The problem is that if you hit something great, they are much more incentivized to block to either kill this or force you to use your mana on a trick instead of playing what you milled.
You can also use self mill spells and play cards off of that which seems like the more consistent use of it.
Kalain, Reclusive Painter
This card was such a beating in AFR and I expect more of the same. Curving this into a four drop that gets a +1+1 counter on it is disgusting on its own. There is no shortage of ways to produce treasures and that just makes your other creatures huge. Amazing card in a great color pair.
Korlessa, Scale Singer
It’s a great blocker early and might even hit some free cards later on. It just requires you to both have specific cards in your deck and have them on top of your library.
There is a small amount of value that can be gleaned from knowing what the top card of your deck is, but it’s not really worth a card. The final nail in the coffin is that I REALLY don’t want to end up in Simic.
Krydle of Baldur’s Gate
This would be higher if blue didn’t look like the worst color. I’m much more likely to splash this into Rakdos off treasures than to run the blue gambit in Baldur’s Gate.
It does still work great with Soulknife Spy or other deal damage to opponent triggers (I’m looking at you Elder Dragons), but it is just fine cracking in on its own.
Liara of the Flaming Fist
Liara really combos well with double team cards. She can even get the party started by giving whatever insane creature you have floating around a chance to make another. It does makes sense that you can only use it once since otherwise it would just be a continuous train.
Of course, you could always do it the old-fashioned way and just have multiples of a creature.
Lozhan, Dragons’ Legacy
That is an awfully tiny tuchus for a whopping five mana. While the dream is to play this and then light them up with let’s just say a Red Dragon, I am really concerned about this living to see that happen. It’s also prohibitively expensive to be able to hold onto this and play another dragon in the same turn.
Mazzy, Truesword Paladin
Quickly glances over auras that go on your creatures in this set… Craving of Yeenoghu. That is the end of the list. I guess you can also bring back aura removal if they kill it, but that seems pretty niche.
That leaves this as almost exclusively a 3/4 for four mana in three colors. I shall pass and I recommend that you do the same.
Miirym, Sentinel Wyrm
My main hesitation on this is the required color combination, but hey treasures fix everything, right? Big old dragon with ward that makes copies of any other dragon you play. Sounds like a wonderful intersection of a great card and a fantastic time. I’m in.
Minthara of the Absolute
I can see scenarios where this gets out of hand, but you have to both be wide and lose some permanents to grow it. Even then, they are one removal spell away from erasing all the hard work you did.
The trick with this one is treasures, you can crack one for the sake of cracking it on their turn to raise the intensity on top of getting the one on your turn. Obviously Deadly Dispute is a great way to keep the good times rolling.
Minsc & Boo, Timeless Heroes
I am, yet again, obligated to tell you that we are unaware of which version is in the draft packs. The difference is that the Alchemy version costs one more colorless mana and doesn’t have the text “Can be your commander”. Clearly you would prefer the cheaper version.
You get the hamster right out of the gate and get to plus it up to a 4/4 trample haste to either get your beat on or defend his good buddy Minsc. The next turn you get to bump it up to a 7/7 and Godzilla Hamster is going to end the game in short order.
They have to deal with Minsc or you just get a replacement Boo so it really forces your opponent to immediately answer multiple threats or lose. I believe that qualifies as a good card.
I did some highly scientific mathematical things and do you know how many party creatures there are in the Dungeons & Dragons set? Did you guess a whole freaking lot? Then yes, you also used a hypergeometric calculator to figure it out.
Getting a full party isn’t as easy as it was in Zendikar, but a properly statted creature that can draw you a few extra cards throughout the came is a great card.
Neera, Wild Mage
This card is, dare I say it, really something else. What? You thought I was going to say wild? That’s low hanging fruit even for me. (Translation: My first draft said wild before my wife glared at me and said, “Really?”)
This definitely nails the flavor of a chaotic neutral card. Without Brainstorm effects this is just going to be random, but it is a may so you just choose to use it on any spell you don’t really care about. Drew my two drop, well let’s spin that wheel!
Oji, the Exquisite Blade
As long as you have enough targets worth blinking and cheap spells, this can really do something. It even provides itself as a good target so you can keep gaining life and scrying away lands. It’s just going to be really difficult to setup to use it to save a creature from a removal spell.
Things I love to do in Magic: Draw extra cards and make a ton of mana. Hey Prosper, How you doin?
While the body might not look that great, the deathtouch is going to prevent any 2/2 attacks that would normally be coming at a 1/4. It’s also going to keep the gas coming while ramping/fixing you.. Yessir, LFG!
Raggadragga, Goreguts Boss
The mana dork lord and there are a decent number floating around in Bronze Walrus, Scaled Nurturer, and Undercellar Myconid. Dread Linnorm is even a solid common in these colors that triggers the second part. On top of that all, it’s a 4/4 for four mana which is totally defensible on its own.
Raphael, Fiendish Savior
This pumps a lot of creatures in these colors and giving them lifelink makes it borderline unfair. It even pumps the tokens it makes so they are 2/2 life linkers. Do you really need more? Fine, it’s also a 4/4 flyer and in the best color pair.
Tasha, Unholy Archmage
This does a decent job of protecting itself even while counting up towards the ultimate. Permanently shrinking their side when they attack will allow you to setup much better blocks until they run out of steam.
The second ability will mostly be used if they have only good cards in their yard, but if you have nothing going on a random bear is better than nothing.
The ultimate doesn’t outright win the game for you, but getting their next three creatures should push you heavily in that direction.
Thrakkus the Butcher
This attacks as a 6/4 trample for five which is alright, but a bit fragile. It also plays defense like James Harden (for those that aren’t NBA fans, that means being really expensive while being bad at defense). It also has to be attacking to trigger it and they have to specifically be dragons to be pumped. Some decks will want this, but there will be a lot in these colors that won’t.
Trelasarra, Moon Dancer
As long as you have the lifegain theme going, this can be bonkers. Continually growing while smoothing your draws is pretty sick out of a two drop. I recommend pairing it with Prosperous Innkeeper for best results.
Ulder Ravengard, Marshal
Now this guy knows how to double team. As long as you have something in play you get to get another copy that turn and you get to copy something every time Ulder gets in there.
A must deal with threat or it is going to bury them in card advantage. The only real drawback is that you have to attack to get the advantage and a 3/3 can be outclassed pretty quickly.
The artifacts are pretty interesting since it provides the access to color fixing that the lands in this set do not. There are some pretty solid ones that will help fill in the edges on your deck and the completely bonkers Basilisk Collar.
We’re so used to having a lot of lands, but in this set it is basically the Seek Gates and an unplayable rare. The Multicolored cards are mostly deck specific, but do provide a really nice power boost if you happen to be in those combinations.
I’ll be back tomorrow with my limited review of Alchemy Horizons: Baldur's Gate Archetypes Edition.
If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
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