Alora, Rogue Companion

Alchemy Horizons: Baldur’s Gate Limited Set Card Review: Blue

Our complete review of all the Alchemy Horizons: Baldur's Gate cards, for limited (sealed and draft).

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:


Air-Cult Elemental

Rating: 2.0/5

Man-o'-War effects are always a welcome addition even if this is one mana too expensive. I don’t mind playing the first one of these, but I’m weary of playing more because they don’t do enough to justify having your hand clogged with them.

Alora, Rogue Companion

Specializations

Rating: 2.5/5

Alora does a great job enabling one of your critters to get in for a clean hit, but the forced return to hand during the end step is a pretty big drawback. That delay makes it a lot harder to abuse comes into play effects or keep the pressure on. Keep in mind that it is up to one so you can opt not to use the ability and avoid having to bounce.

As far as the specializations go, I think the Assassin and Mastermind will be the choices around 90% of the time.

Ancient Silver Dragon

Rating: 2.5/5

I know, I know…it’s a huge mythic dragon that draws a ton of cards, how can I possibly be this low on it. Its eight mana and there’s a huge difference between seven and eight mana for a creature. That means you’re not expecting to play this until around turn ten.

Even without any mill or card draw, that is going to have you pretty close to twenty cards left in your deck. If you manage to connect, you’re going to have to hope you don’t roll higher than the number of cards in your deck.  That means that the later the game goes, the closer this gets to having defender unless it’s hitting for lethal.

Of course, if you draw ten cards and still have ten left in your deck, you should be heavily favored even if your dragon is relegated to defense for the rest of the game. That means I’m going to play it, there are just other cards I would take over it.

Blur

Rating: 2.5/5

This is another one that you are going to have to change the value of based off what your deck can blink. If you have at least four good targets, then this is the grade for it, less than that and it drops down to a 2.0 to be used as a cantrip against removal.

Calim, Djinn Emperor

Rating: 3.0/5

I was still in medical school the last time I read something with this much text. Seriously I don’t even know if that’s even all the text it has since it just gets cut off at the bottom. If it doesn’t fit on the card, maybe consider changing it so it does.

Despite getting hit in the face with that nasty block of text, this is actually pretty simple. Are you in the market for a 5/6 with flying and ward two that’s difficult to cast on six? If not, then move on.

It does have the option of kicking the can down the road by cycling it to tap something down early which might be the plan since it puts a duplicate copy into your deck. That makes me want to pair it with black because Summon Undead brings it back and mills you three cards closer to the next one.

Charmed Sleep

Rating: 2.0/5

While most of the things I’ve said about removal being at a premium in this set are still true, this one is hard to cast in what I suspect is the worst color. While Minimus Containment dodges blink creature effects and Seatower Imprisonment throws in a creature, this one just gets wrecked by a blink.

Clever Conjurer

Rating: 2.0/5

I’m trying to conjure something clever up here, but this is just a decent card twenty-three. It’s nice to use as an early mana ramper that can untap a critter that attacked later. It also dunks all over Charmed Sleep, but that’s like saying you slammed on a six-year-old on a Nerf hoop.

Contact Other Plane

Rating: 2.0/5

This is one of the more consequential rolls because scry 3, draw three is a huge difference over the other outcomes. I would never play Inspiration so almost half the time you play this it’s a giant feels bad. It wasn’t good in AFR and there aren’t even the roll triggers to make it decent this time.

Displacer Kitten

Rating: 3.5/5

This adorable little kittie can do some truly busted things by making every single spell you cast into a blink effect. It laughs in the face of removal and gets that card advantage engine purring.

The main drawback is that it is only a 2/2 for four that has a huge target on it when it comes down. You’ll probably be able to protect it if you wait a couple extra turns, but you have to set up enough defense to get to that point in the game.

Draconic Lore

Rating: 1.5/5

I’m never going to want to play a six mana draw three, even if it is instant. There are some cheap dragons like Dragonborn Looter and Pseudodragon Familiar so maybe I will start considering it if I am somehow playing five or more.

Dragonborn Looter

Rating: 2.0/5

Would it be so bad for them to just give us a Merfolk Looter variant that doesn’t cost mana to loot? This is only one mana to activate so I could see it getting some play as a smoother or graveyard enabler in Dimir.

Dream Fracture

Rating: 1.5/5

Cancel is a sideboard card these days. On top of that, while it’s a symmetrical effect, I’m not a big fan of giving my opponent a card.

Gale, Conduit of the Arcane

Specializations

Rating: 3.5/5

Gale fuels himself by bringing back a spell when he comes into play before flipping into a variety of engines. He can put in some serious work with the life loss or Pegasus maker backsides putting a quick clock on your opponent. This raises the value of cheap cantrips like Blur and Shocking Grasp.

If you’re really low on instants and sorceries, then this drops in value precipitously. I wouldn’t even play it if I only had a couple spells to trigger it.

Gale’s Redirection

Rating: 3.5/5

Now this is the counter spell that I want to get down with. Assuming what you counter costs four or more, about half the time you just get to cast whatever bomb you countered for the low, low cost of free.

I’m giving this card the award for “Most likely to cause opponent to pause for a few seconds, realize what happened, and concede”.

Goggles of Night

Rating: 1.5/5

I fondly remember the days of Ophidian and Thieving Magpie so I get all excited when I see anything that draws a card when it deals damage. That makes me want to love this card, but I just can’t. It’s like when you run into someone you dated in high school and realize “past me was an idiot”.

You are going to be four mana in to just get your first replacement card with this and that’s only if you manage to hit your opponent with it. It’s also going to be difficult to get an attack in once your opponent knows about it so this really needed to add some form of evasion to be good.

Guild Thief

Rating: 2.0/5

Significantly better on the play if you can sneak a hit in early to start snowballing. It can also start a clock on a stalled board so it’s not actively bad or anything. Just doesn’t do much in every other situation.

Hypnotic Pattern

Rating: 2.0/5

I try not to dismiss what one mana tricks bring to the table, but this one is pretty situational. There is the possibility of getting the double blowout with this, but I think people will play around it after the first time it happens to them. I’d much rather just play Shocking Grasp as my blue combat trick.

Illithid Harvester

Rating: 3.0/5

This isn’t really a card that you want to curve the adventure into the creature because tapping down a couple of early creatures before turning them into 2/2s isn’t really the greatest sequence. The upside of the versatility is what I am looking at here because later on you can ice down their whole side to swing in for a win.

The other option is to just raw dog this out and turn all their creatures that attacked last turn into little Horrors.

Imoen, Trickster Friend

Specializations

Rating: 3.0/5

Kicking off the game with a two power unblockable creature is always nice even if it has to attack alone. Flipping it shouldn’t be too difficult as long as you’ve cast a couple cheap spells and that’s when you can really get the party started. (When discussing a Rogue Wizard, I am contractually obligated to make the party comment)

The card draw and zombie creator versions will probably be the default ones to choose from, but the pumping one is a good option if you happen to be going wide.

Irenicus’s Vile Duplication

Rating: 3.0/5

While you can’t use this to clone one of your opponent’s monsters, it is evened out by the ability to use this on a legendary creature and get flying thrown into the deal. Copying something like a Owlbear gives you a four mana 4/4 flyer that draws a card which is pretty sick.

Words of warning: Be careful playing this into open mana.

Juvenile Mist Dragon

Rating: 3.0/5

Looks like Chillbringer hit the gym a little bit to get that extra point of power. Kind of disappointed that this is an uncommon because downshifting this to common could have given blue some of the punch that it is missing here.

Kenku Artificer

Rating: 1.0/5

There just aren’t enough playable noncreature artifacts floating around to try to get this going. Sure, if you have some crazy pile of Prophetic Prisms and want to live that meme dream, then feel free to toss this in. Outside of that just let this chill in the sideboard.

Kindred Discovery

Rating: 2.0/5

I’ve discovered another card that either does stone cold nothing or wins the game for you. Its hard to swallow a five mana do nothing, but if you have at least six of a creature type this can bury your opponent in card advantage. I’m going to say it’s a casual constructed plant, but leaving open the possibility of it being good in some decks.

Lapis Orb of Dragonkind

Rating: 1.5/5

Back in my day, we walked up hill both ways in the snow and Manalith gave you all the colors. It’s pretty unlikely that I ever have enough dragons that I want to play this, but if I have a high enough curve and need a way to ramp (so basically if I train wrecked my draft) then I can see playing this.

Lizardfolk Librarians

Rating: 2.0/5

This is clearly a defensive card, but it requires you to attack to trigger the double team. It can probably survive an attack and Shocking Grasp is a good deterrent if they are considering a double block. Like most of the blue cards in this set, it’s fine.

Pseudodragon Familiar

Rating: 2.0/5

Is this a below rate flyer because it’s only sort of a dragon? One of these should be a decent addition to your deck if your three-drop slot is weak and you might need the extra umph to get across the finish line. You can even use the threat of activation to hold your opponent’s creatures back before popping off an instant on their end step.

Ray of Frost

Rating: 2.5/5

I like this more than Charmed Sleep even though it doesn’t tap down non-red creatures. Being able to take away abilities matters on cards like Battle Cry Goblin and Valor Singer while the instant speed can shut off red hasters.

Rimeshield Frost Giant

Rating: 2.5/5

This is a brick house that puts the kibosh on your opponents plan to attack through this. The ward three is especially nasty since they need a removal spell that can somehow deal with a five-toughness creature and have three extra mana. There’s just a huge glut of expensive blue cards.

Robe of the Archmagi

Rating: 2.5/5

All of the nasty things I said about Goggles of Night still apply here. This is somehow even more expensive, but the big difference is that if you sneak a single hit in you’re drawing a full grip of cards. It’s not hard to figure out how to win when you just drew a pile of extra cards.

Seek New Knowledge

Rating: 3.0/5

I have an unnatural love for two mana draw two cards effects. Being guaranteed to hit two spells is amazing later in the game when you’re just tossing a land back. While it doesn’t help if you need to hit land drop three, I’m willing to take that chance for the huge upside it has later.

Shocking Grasp

Rating: 2.5/5

Shock your opponent right out of the game with a cantrip trick. While it’s no Startle, it’s still a pretty big beating when they get blown out with this. It’s a pretty key card when you are trying to force Soulknife Spy through early in the game.

Signature Spells

Rating: 2.0/5

This looks like a huge build around and a meme waiting to happen. I did the work for you and the cards you would want to cast every upkeep are Arcane Archery, Blur, Band Together, Breath Weapon, Demogorgon's Clutches, Druidic Ritual, Follow the Tracks, Improvised Weaponry, Grave Choice, and Sewer Plague.

It is a six mana do nothing that is going to take two more turns to catch up on mana. If you loved going off with Arcane Bombardment and you want to go down this route, I would recommend that you have some combination of at least four copies of the cards listed above. Happy memeing!

Snowborn Simulacra

Rating: 3.5/5

Hey look, another seven mana win the game card. Adding a copy of the best five cards in play to your hand while getting to drop one directly into play is going to swing a game heavily in your favor.

It’s important to note that it doesn’t say “that you control” so you get to hit their cards too.

Soulknife Spy

Rating: 2.5/5

The difference between this and the draw a card on damage cards we discussed earlier is that Soulknife Spy puts the pressure on your opponent to block early. This lets you wreck their creatures with Shocking Grasp or Hypnotic Pattern while they don’t really have the option of just taking the damage unless they want to fall behind on cards.

From the other side of the table, if the blowout is going to be worse than letting it through, just let them have the card. I know it is against everything you have ever learned in Magic, but going down one card is better than going down two. A good example of this is if you think they have Rally Maneuver and the next turn you can do a block with a counter or trick of your own up.

Sword Coast Serpent

Rating: 2.5/5

I would be a lot higher on this if the creature half only cost six. It’s just going to take forever to get your giant serpent out, but it will end the game in a hurry if you have a couple spells to make it unblockable.

 As Brazen Borrower has shown, having a two-mana bounce on an adventure creature can be big game. The tempo gain can be worth it on its own and you don’t even go down a card.

Thayan Evokers

Rating: 1.5/5

The 1/1 is misleading because it becomes a 2/2 when it comes into play while letting you filter a card in hand into an actual factual Lightning Bolt. If it survives your attack, it gets to become a 3/3 off of the second one while supplying you another bolt.

That’s a lot of stuff to get off of one card, just make sure you have something to pitch so you don’t lose your bolts. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that it even grows off of other conjures so it has some real potential to blow up.

Tymora’s Invoker

Rating: 1.5/5

A decent early blocker that brings back fond memories of the Legions Invoker cycle (just let me have my boomer reminisces). Limited Magic has changed since then so you are far less likely to get to the point where you can spend eight mana multiple times to pull away.

Undersimplify

Rating: 2.0/5

Oh joy, oh joy, another Quench variant. Not in the same class as Make Disappear since it lacks the ability to scale up, but at least it can do something to a random creature instead of just being a dead card later.

Water Weird

Rating: 2.0/5

It’s going to get weird as long as you can get that first counter on this. A 4/5 is really awkward to block without putting yourself in a vulnerable position with a double block. There are also going to be times this is just a Hill Giant with an extra toughness so I wouldn’t want to load up on them.

Wizened Githzerai

Rating: 2.0/5

This is going to be annoying as sin to block early since it gives the -2-0 before damage is dealt. It also gives it to every creature blocking it so no gang blocking shenanigans. Even if they go use a trick or a bigger creature to eat it, their creature is smaller for the rest of the game. Thanks Alchemy.

You Come to a River

Rating: 1.5/5

A two mana bounce spell can be nice if you’re in a tempo game or your opponent tries to use a trick. There is also a non zero chance that it lets you sneak in lethal.

You Find the Villain’s Lair

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Rating: 1.5/5

Nah, I’m good on finding the villain’s lair. They will just ramble endlessly about their master plan or the good old days (maybe that’s just me rambling…).

Fine as a sideboard card if your opponent has a bomb you need an answer to. As far as the second half goes, I think I saw three mana Careful Study used twice in all of AFR.

Young Blue Dragon

Rating: 2.5/5

I would be so high on this if it was a Phantom Monster, but maybe that would be overpowered for a common. It’s not going to be too hard to slip the two mana into your curve for the free card, but at a hefty five mana on the second half it’s going to be hard to play too many of these.

Vhal, Eager Scholar

Specializations

Rating: 3.0/5

Wasn’t I just asking for a looter without an activation cost? Granted this one costs three mana instead of two, but I can’t be too picky about it. The specialization is really expensive and you probably won’t have too many extra lands floating around to specialize with since you’ve been throwing them away to this.

Flipping it does make it a much beefier creature and will most likely be used as a removal spell as long as it’s been out for a few turns.


Wrap Up

Blue was considered the worst color in AFR and now it’s missing the best common in Djinni Windseer. It also lost some of the bombs that carried it like Grazilaxx, Illithid Scholar, Mind Flayer, and Mordenkainen.

While there are some interesting new cards like Displacer Kitten, it looks like Blue is going to be more of a support color than the main focus of your deck in HBG. It has a lot of replaceable and slightly overcosted cards without anything that screams that you need to be playing it. It’ll most likely be the same as in AFR where you end up in it because you got cut and it was slap you in the face open.

I’ll be back tomorrow with my limited review of Alchemy Horizons: Baldur's Gate Black.

If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.

You can also find me at:

Card Kingdom - Double Masters 2022
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j2sjosh

Josh is a member of the elite limited team The Draft Lab as well as the host of The Draft Lab Podcast. He was qualifying for Pro Tours, Nationals, and Worlds literally before some of you were born. After a Magic hiatus to play poker and go to medical school, he has been dominating Arena with over an 80% win percentage in Bo3 as well as making #1 rank in Mythic.

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