Top 10 Standard Cards in Magic 2013
July 3, 2012 | Posted by Dee
With the last couple of sets, Wizards has done a great job printing cards that affect Standard in a major way. Magic 2013, or M13, looks to be no different. It’s got powerful cards that you’ll be seeing at your local FNM.
The full card image gallery was released yesterday, so I decided to look at every single card in the set and try to figure out the best ones. Here are my predictions of the top 10 M13 cards for Standard.
10. Vampire Nighthawk
This Zendikar reprint is saw a good amount of play when it was legal in previous Standard seasons. I think its playability will continue in post M13 Standard.
Vampire Nighthawk has three good abilities and a decent body for only three mana so he’s a solid creature in many situations. I could see him seeing play in all kinds of decks, from aggro and midrange, all the way to control.
His flying ability helps you break creature stalls. When you combine flying with deathtouch, you end up with a great blocker that can take down Delver of Secrets and Restoration Angel.
Of course, deathtouch is good for the ground too. Vampire Nighthawk can trade with big ground creatures such as Primeval Titan and Dungrove Elder.
Lifelink makes him a good creature in racing situations. Also, this ability can buy you time to stabilize when you’re playing a control deck.
If you buff Vampire Nighthawk up, he gets really good. For example, he can gain you a lot of life when equipped with Sword of War and Peace or Lashwrite. He’s one of the best creatures to play with Liliana of the Dark Realms because you can pump him up to absurd levels.
9. Disciple of Bolas
Disciple of Bolas makes this top ten list because he has a lot of synergy with top cards in the Standard format. He has a lot of good targets for his ability and drawing cards and gaining life are definitely powerful effects.
In black, you can sac Gravecrawler and Geralf’s Messenger to Disciple of Bolas for a lot of value. Green has two excellent creatures to sacrifice, Strangleroot Geist and Thragtusk. If you’re playing red and green, Huntmaster of the Fells gives you a 2/2 Wolf token to feed to the M13 creature.
Basically, undying creatures and creatures with strong enters-the-battlefield abilities and two or more power are good targets for Disciple of Bolas. Look for creatures like Borderland Ranger, Acidic Slime, and Snapcaster Mage.
Disciple of Bolas fits very well in a Birthing Pod deck because it is filled with these type of creatures. Also, you can search for him by sacrificing at three casting cost creature to Pod.
His casting cost is splashable so he could go in different decks without wrecking the mana base.
8. Augur of Bolas
Augur of Bolas should find a home in Standard because his ability interacts well with one of the best cards in Standard, Snapcaster Mage.
Snapcaster Mage decks already have a bunch of instants and sorceries. Augur of Bolas gives these decks more cheap card draw, plus you get a 1/3 body.
1/3 is not bad for two mana. He can block 2/2s all day long so he provides some defense for control decks. He wins a battle with Snapcaster Mage and a freshly played Strangleroot Geist.
Augur of Bolas seems very good with Restoration Angel. In fact, in many situations, he’s a better creature to flicker with Restoration Angel than Snapcaster Mage. Blue/White Midrange and Esper Midrange will love this M13 card.
He’s a Wizard like Delver of Secrets and Snapcaster Mage so he has some synergy with Cavern of Souls.
7. Sign in Blood
Black decks haven’t had a good card draw spell in a couple Standard seasons. That will change once Sign in Blood is legal in a couple of days.
Two cards for two mana is very good. Blue doesn’t even have this effect in Standard. It has to pay three mana to draw two cards with Divination. You do lose two life with Sign in Blood, but having a cheaper mana cost is worth the drawback.
You can gain the life back with cards like Vampire Nighthawk, Consume Spirit, Sorin’s Vengeance, Sorin Markov, Sword of War and Peace, and Batterskull.
Mono Black Control looks ready for a comeback. I’ve already talked about Vampire Nighthawk and Sign in Blood. Mutilate gives black a very powerful mass removal spell.
Black’s previous options for wiping the board were Black Sun’s Zenith and Barter in Blood. Mutilate is better than these cards.
As long as you play a lot of Swamps, Mutilate kills creatures at a much more efficient rate than Black Sun’s Zenith. For example, late in the game, it kills Titans for four mana while you have to spend eight mana with Black Sun’s Zenith.
Barter in Blood has the two creature restriction so it doesn’t match up well against token decks and cards that make token creatures like Blade Splicer and Huntmaster of the Fells. Mutilate doesn’t have any of these problems.
5. Thundermaw Hellkite
If I only had one word to describe Thundermaw Hellkite, it would be “overpowered.” Five mana for a 5/5 creature is ahead of the curve and flying and haste are two of the best creature abilities.
And this big red Dragon gives you more. You get to clear the sky of small flyers like Spirit tokens and Birds of Paradise while the rest of the flyers are tapped. With the air clear of blockers, you can send in Thundermaw Hellkite unblocked at your opponent or a planeswalker.
Birds of Paradise and cards that make Spirit tokens like Moorland Haunt and Lingering Souls are popular in Standard. Thundermaw Hellkite just wrecks these cards.
Also, you’ll be able to attack past flipped Delver of Secrets, Restoration Angel, and Consecrated Sphinx.
4. Sublime Archangel
By herself, Sublime Archangel is a big threat. She attacks for five in the air, which is really good for only four mana.
She gets better with each creature you add on the board, even if those creatures are small 1/1s. Basically, she turns all your small creatures into big threats.
For example, let’s say you have two 1/1s on the board when you play Sublime Archangel. In the same turn, if you attack with one of the 1/1s, it will becomes a 4/4.
On the next turn, if you attack with Sublime Archangel, she will grow to a 7/6 creature. These plays show the huge impact she can make on a game.
She’s not legendary so you can have multiples of her on the battlefield. That’s when things get really insane. With two Sublime Archangels and just one other creature, every time you attack with only one creature, it will gain +6/+6!
Rancor is one of the best creature enchantments of all time. It was first printed 13 years ago in Urza’s Legacy and now it’s back to give green a big boost.
For one mana, you’re basically getting a two power creature with haste that goes back to your hand when it dies. That’s a ton of aggression and resiliency packed in just one mana.
The only drawback is that you have to have a creature on the board. That’s not a big drawback at all. All you have to do to negate it is play a lot of creatures in your deck.
Rancor is vulnerable to instant speed removal like Vapor Snag and Doom Blade but you can often play around those cards by waiting for your opponent to tap out. Also, you can lessen this vulnerability by playing hexproof creatures.
If you haven’t played with or against Rancor before, I’m sure you’ll see its power pretty quickly. There’s no other card like it in Magic.
2. Ajani, Caller of the Pride
I think Ajani, Caller of the Pride is one of the best planeswalkers for hyper aggressive beatdown decks. He’s cheap at three mana and his abilities are great for dealing a lot of damage with small aggro creatures.
His first ability makes your creatures permanently bigger while his second ability hits really hard. His ultimate ability gives aggro decks staying power for the middle and late game.
Ajani has a high starting loyalty so he’s hard to kill by attacking. He goes up to five loyalty after you activate his first ability one time. That’s higher than Liliana of the Veil and the same number as the five mana planeswalker, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage.
By the time you can cast Tamiyo, Ajani can already be up to seven loyalty. That’s close to Gideon Jura territory.
Thragtusk is my top card of the set for a couple of reasons.
First, it crushes aggro decks, which make up a big part of the Standard metagame. Five life is a lot to gain and you get two big blockers. How does a deck like Zombies expect to beat this card?
Second, Thragtusk is good against all types of removal, from pinpoint removal and bounce to boardwipe spells. Your opponent literally cannot get ahead of the exchange with any removal spell.
Doom Blade, Day of Judgment, and even Terminus gives you a 3/3. Vapor Snag is just embarrassing against this Beast because you get the 3/3 and you can replay it to gain five life again.
Delver decks definitely don’t want to see this creature on the other side of the table.
Third, Thragtusk combos with other powerful cards in Standard. You can search for it with Green Sun’s Zenith.
You can flicker it with Restoration Angel and Cloudshift to gain life and 3/3 creatures. If you thought blinking Blade Splicer was good, wait until you blink Thragtusk.
You can play it with Birthing Pod to gain a lot of value. Thragtusk is one of those rare creatures that gives you something when you search for it with Pod (five life) and when you sac it to Pod (a 3/3 creature).