Check Out This Legendary Flyer from the Azorius Guild
September 3, 2012 | Posted by Dee
With each new set, Wizards includes new abilities to change the game and make it fresh again. The power levels of these abilities can be hard to evaluate if they are not similar to anything we’ve seen before.
I think you can see a good example of this in Mark Rosewater’s Return to Ravnica preview card from his column today. He spoiled the Azorius guild leader: Isperia, Supreme Judge.
This legendary creature has a unique ability that could take some time to get used to, both for deck builder who plays the card and opponents who play against her.
Check out Isperia below.
Isperia, Supreme Judge
Good Against Small Creature Decks
Isperia is definitely not a straightforward card advantage creature like Consecrated Sphinx. With Sphinx, the draw step is mandatory so you know you’ll be drawing cards unless your opponent manages to kill it before his draw step. With Isperia, your opponent has options. He can choose not to attack to prevent you from drawing cards.
Of course, it’s a not a bad thing if your opponent doesn’t attack, but what if you want to draw cards with Isperia?
Let’s look at two situations to see how her ability could work out. To make things simple, assume that both of you have zero cards in hand and zero non-land permanents on the board other than the ones I mention.
You’re at 8 life and your opponent is at 20. He has Ravager of the Fells while you have Isperia. Your opponent will probably attack because he’s close to killing you and he’s only letting you draw one card. You could draw a blank like a basic land.
Let’s do the above example again except this time your opponent has five 1/1 Human token creatures instead of Ravager of the Fells. In this situation, your opponent will be hesitant to attack. Sure, he can swing with everyone and deal four damage to you but you’ll draw five cards and block to kill a token.
Five cards is a lot of cards. It should be enough to deal with the remaining token creatures. Even if it isn’t, you’ll draw more cards if your opponent attacks again next turn.
When you compare these two situations, you see that Isperia is definitely much stronger against a couple small creatures than one big creature. She’s like Jace, Architect of Thought in that manner.
Keep that mind. If your local metagame ends up having a lot of aggro decks with many small creatures, then Isperia will be a pretty good card to play.
Isperia’s four toughness looks like big drawback though. With only four toughness for six mana, she trades with popular creatures that are cheaper than her including Falkenrath Aristocrat and Thragtusk. Also, it’s easier to kill her with a miracled Bonfire.
I think the new removal spell, Mizzium Mortars, will be the one of the premier kill spells in post-Return to Ravnica. It destroys Isperia for a just two mana. If it becomes a popular card in your metagame, I would look for a different finisher for my white/blue deck.
Midrange Vs. Control
Usually six-drops are played in control decks, but I actually think Isperia is better in a midrange deck like Blue/White or Esper. These decks are more aggressive than control decks and Isperia can definitely go aggro and kill your opponent quickly with her six power and flying ability.
You may need a card like Blade Splicer to defend the ground while you attack for six in the air every turn with the Azorius guild leader.
The new Azorious mechanic, detain, also lends itself well in a midrange strategy rather than control. Detain slows down your opponent for a turn so this mechanic is huge in racing situations. Midrange decks find themselves in more of these situations than control decks.
The Blue/White Midrange deck I mentioned leaned heavily on planeswalkers. Isperia seems very good with planeswalkers in general.
Planeswalkers and Isperia
With Isperia on the board with a planeswalker, you put your opponent into a lose-lose situation. If he doesn’t attack the planeswalker, you’ll gain a lot of value from activating it multiple times. Also, you can get closer to activating the ultimate ability. However, if he attacks the planeswalker, you’ll draw cards with Isperia and he will have to deal her 6/4 body as a blocker.
I like Tamiyo as the best planeswalker to pair with Isperia because she’s good against decks that rely on a few big creatures. Basically, she helps shore up one of Isperia’s weakness.
Jace, Architect of Thought is good too because he shrinks the power of incoming attackers. For example, with Jace on the board in Situation #1 above, you can keep Ravager of the Fells from attacking by activating Jace’s +1 ability. Ravager would attack as a 3/4, which is not enough to trade with Isperia.
Unfortunately, Gideon Jura was not reprinted in Magic 2013. He would’ve been very good with Isperia because he forces your opponents to attack with his +2 ability. I would keep an eye out for a card with a similar ability in Return to Ravnica.