Hello everyone! Innistrad: Midnight Hunt spoiler season has come to the end so we are now transitioning from spoilers to the most exciting time in Magic, the brewing phase for a brand new Standard. For all brewing phases, you need to have a strong grasp of card evaluations which can be a difficult skill to master, since you need to judge cards you haven’t played with. With that, I tend to find a lot of strong and homogenized opinions surrounding cards and I want to throw in my two cents as well about where I disagree with what I’m seeing as popular opinion.
In both this set and that past, there’s plenty of cards I’ve seen players hail as amazing when they are mediocre (Aurelia’s Fury, Assassin’s Trophy, and Nullpriest of Oblivion) and those slated as mediocre that are actually amazing (Hydroid Krasis, Rekindling Phoenix, History of Benalia). Nothing feels better to get a card evaluation right early on so you can either buy copies before the spike or get your free wins before other people realize how good it is! With that, let’s hop right in!
UNDERRATED: Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia
Ophiomancer‘s little brother is here and he’s looking good! Jadar may not look super impressive, but he actually sports a lot of utility for a 2 drop. First off, he can be solid in aggro decks by creating a constant stream of 2/2s your opponent won’t want to block, but will have to eventually block. However, that’s far from its best application. Where it’s really going to shine is any deck that’s playing Village Rites (and/or similar cards) or decks that care about sacrificing creatures.
This may seem weird that I think this card is undervalued where I thought Poppet Stitcher was overvalued (see below), but this produces tokens for free, all you have to do is reach your end step. Since you don’t need to invest anything, it’s pretty easy to put yourself in a position where you’re getting a Zombie every turn either for sacrifice fodder or just to pressure the opponent. It’s unfortunate that these tokens can’t block, but you can only ask so much of a 2 drop that pumps out tokens for free.
OVERRATED: Bloodthirsty Adversary
Let’s get my most contentious opinion out of the way first. I think this card is definitely quite solid, but to compare it to Snapcaster Mage is extremely excessive. For starters, a 2 mana 2/2 Haste is not a particularly acceptable stat line for modern Standard formats. Sure this Standard is going to be a good deal weaker than previous Standard and it’s not solely a 2/2 haste, but it’s not great just on face value.
Second, although the prospect of flashing back a spell for free is enticing considering how strong it seems, 5 mana to do that only to get a 3/3 is a tall ask. Compare this to Goblin Dark-Dwellers which was a 4/4 with Menace, sure you couldn’t play it on 2 so this might be better, but Dwellers only saw modest play during it’s time in Standard. For a better comparison, look at Goldspan Dragon which has an identical cost as Adversary with it’s first kicker, but is substantially more powerful in most scenarios.
Lastly, if you don’t have a high impact spell in your graveyard, this is going to be on average worse than a 4 drop even when kicked. I’ll reiterate that I do like this card and it’s going to be solid in Vampires, but I think it’s very overhyped.
UNDERRATED: Suspicious Stowaway
Suspicious Stowaway is an interesting case of underrated as I think most players identified this as a solid card, but I think it’s a REALLY good card. So on the front side, you have an old buddy of mine, Looter il-Kor. If this was just Looter il-Kor, it may have already seen play, but this has two major advantages.
One, even if you don’t want to, this can block which can be huge in a pinch. Second, and obviously more important, is that you can flip this into an unblockable 2/1 with Curiosity. That may seem difficult to do, but if you just play this in a deck that wants to play a lot of counterspells, suddenly this card is nuts as you cast it on 2, pass turn 3, counter their play, then start drawing cards until they can double spell. You do have to build around this card a bit, but the payoff for doing so seems really high.
OVERRATED: Poppet Stitcher
Here we have another case of a card I like, but I believe is vastly overrated. Let’s get the obvious out of the way, if you cast Poppet Stitcher, get 3 or more creature tokens, and have it live to upkeep to flip, this card is going to feel busted. However, that is quite a tall ask for this card.
To start with, I think on the front half that this is a good deal worse than Sedgemoor Witch for multiple reasons. Sedgemoor has higher power, has menace so it can more easily attack, makes tokens that can block, and has a ward ability to accrue value even if she dies immediately. Stitcher does have the third toughness which can be important, but otherwise Witch is the superior card on the front, and she still sees functionally no play.
To be fair, you have to take the back of Poppet into consideration too, but you’ll need it to live long enough to accumulate over 3 tokens, be in a scenario where you aren’t looking to attack with them, have it survive for an upkeep, and hope you aren’t dying in that interim as well. If you build your deck completely around this I would say the card is quite good, but I think it’s currently being overvalued in how many decks it can see play in.
UNDERRATED: Smoldering Egg
So the most obvious comparison to this card is Thing in the Ice and for good reason. Both are 0/4 defenders that flip into a scary body when enough spells are cast, but Smoldering Egg seems much harder to flip on the surface. Thing in the Ice needed 4 spells, but if you play cheap cantrips you can very quickly flip it into a 7 power creature that bounces the whole board which is obviously insane. Sure, Smoldering Egg is both “harder” to flip and the flipside is worse, but Thing in the Ice is an absolutely incredible card so being a worse version of it still makes it quite powerful.
So the mistake I’m seeing a lot of people make is assuming you want to play Egg in the same style of deck you would play Thing in the Ice, decks with a lot of cheap cantrips since that would make the back half of it the best. Cantrips aren’t bad with Egg, but you actually want to play expensive spells with it. This and Alrund’s Epiphany is a match made in heaven as it can flip it instantly and give you an unfettered
OVERRATED: Tovolar’s Huntmaster
Maybe I’m crazy, but I’m not seeing why Huntmaster is so loved. The obvious comparison is to Grave Titan as they’re similar, but I have a few issues with that comparison. First of all, Grave Titan is substantially better as always making double 2/2s on ETB and attack is way better than having to wait for it to happen (barring your opponent doesn’t cast a spell on their turn, but if they do that after you resolve any 6 drop you’re going to win 99% of the time anyway).
Secondly, I’m not convinced that Grave Titan would even be that good if it were reprinted into current Standard. The bar for more expensive spells is insanely high in Standard right now when you have cards like Esika’s Chariot, Arlinn, the Pack’s Hope, Goldspan Dragon, Lolth, Spider Queen, Blood on the Snow, etc. All of these cards are cheaper and just as high impact as Huntmaster, so why spend 6 mana on this when you can just play an Esika’s Chariot which is close to the same thing? Maybe in a dedicated ramp shell this could be ok, but I’d rather be casting Koma, Cosmos Serpent at that point.
UNDERRATED: Moonveil Regent
I have seen functionally zero buzz about this card and I’m not sure why. I think it’s very similar to what happened with Galazeth Prismari back in Strixhaven, if a Mythic has abilities that aren’t insanely good, it tends to get undervalued.
Let’s start with the obvious, 4 mana 4/4 Flier is a solid stat line. However, on top of a strong body, it’s a form of card advantage that even a Monored deck can appreciate. If you cast your last card in hand, you get to draw a card (or more) for free, and you can keep chaining these activations if you keep drawing spells. This ability isn’t as strong as Experimental Frenzy, but you’re also not forced to use it and you get a large body out of the deal.
On top of that, you even get a death trigger which is likely to only do 1-2 damage, but that still can be important in a racing scenario or a means to kill a creature to 2 for 1 the opponent. The floor for this card is already quite high and the ceiling is much higher, I imagine this is going to be a role player in new Standard.
OVERRATED: Augur of Autumn
Augur of Autumn holds the title for the largest delta between how good I’ve seen people think she is versus how good I think she is. I’m seeing a lot of comparisons to Courser of Kruphix, a level 3 Ranger Class, you name it. However, this card just doesn’t seem that good. Courser was so good in it’s Standard format for multiple reasons. Playing lands off the top was the biggest one, but it also gained a life per land and had 4 toughness which made it hard to attack through.
Most importantly though, that Standard format was mostly defined by midrange mirrors, a long lost concept in today’s hyper efficient Standard environments. Augur can’t block nearly as well, dies to Frost Bite, doesn’t gain life, and needs minimum two other creatures on board to even get the second mode. If you can get the second mode online then this card is going to be great, but either you’re clearly winning that game anyway or you’re in a board stall which is extremely rare in Standard nowadays. I love Courser as much as the next player, but this isn’t Courser.
UNDERRATED: Delver of Secrets
Ironically when I was compiling this list, I figured Delver was going to be vastly overrated. Sure the card is great, but it’s not like it’s now the best card in Standard and nothing else stands a chance. Imagine my surprise when I saw a lot of players saying that Delver was just medium or it wasn’t going to be that good since the spells in this format are worse than when it was last in Standard (which is partly true). Now, I have to jump to my boy’s defense!
Before I continue, most people correctly identified this is going to be great in older formats, but this is talking about specifically Standard applications. Delver requires a little work, but that work is mostly trivial as long as you’re playing good cards. I’m willing to play nearly vanilla one mana 2/1s in Standard nowadays and be relatively happy about it, and this is a 3 powered one drop with Flying! How is that not great? Especially with MDFCs, Delver seems easier to flip than ever and you don’t even have to play low land counts to accomplish that! I doubt Delver is going to terrorize the format, but it’s likely to be one of the best things you can be doing.
I’ve also brewed up several decks built around Delver:
OVERRATED: Moonrager’s Slash
This may be a tough sell as Burn spells that can be cost reduced to Lightning Bolt have generally been really strong in their respective formats. This may seem like a slam dunk for Standard, but I think it’s actually pretty bad.
So to start off, you need it to be night time to get the cost reduction which means you have to play with Werewolves. Ok, then just play it in a Werewolves deck, right? You can, but how good is it going to play out there? Werewolves is a deck that’s looking to curve out, not constantly be flipping between day and night. Ideally, Werewolves will deploy a bunch of creatures, eventually decide to sandbag spells (or run out) so they can flip and put the onus on the opponent to double spell or face your massive board.
The problem is, how does Moonrager’s Slash fit into this equation? You don’t want to pass the turn early to play this on cheap, you don’t want to spend 3 mana for this, and this will lose it’s efficiency the later the game drags on as you’re likely looking to kill creatures for cheap with this. Although the card seems to have a high ceiling, it just doesn’t seem that there’s many scenarios where it’s really that good.
Thank you for reading!