Top 5 Cards

Posted in Event Coverage on August 17, 2015

By Corbin Hosler and Marc Calderaro

Team Limited is an idiosyncratic, singular format—but sometimes good cards are good cards. Some Magic Origins cards shine brighter in Team, even if they shine brightly already. Below are the five diamonds of Grand Prix Detroit.

5. Blazing Hellhound

This pick of Blazing Hellhound is really a stand-in for all ten multi-colored cards in Magic Origins. In team formats, these cards play a vastly different role than in other limited formats.

When you open your Sealed pool and are looking to pair colors, if you pull two of any of the stronger multi-color uncommons, it will often direct your first deck, and could even shape an entire team of decks. Once you see two Blazing Hellhounds staring back at you, your team should immediately look at how Red and Black work together. The same could be said for two Citadel Castellans, or two Thunderclap Wyverns. Even if your pool has two Bounding Krasis—just a value creature—it gives your first builds direction.

And in Team Draft, the multi-colored cards can be a pivotal indication of what the other team is drafting. Listening to the eventual winners, Matt Nass, (17) Jacob Wilson, and Sam Pardee, discussing their semifinals build, they deduced that none of their opponents were White-Red purely because of how many Iroas's Champions were going around late.

These cards are all good as cards, but they were stellar this weekend as build directors and color indicators.

4. Separatist Voidmage

Never has bouncing a creature looked so good. In a format full of renowned creatures, creature enchantments and expensive bombs, Separatist Voidmage proved itself a catch-all answer in Detroit, all while also providing a body to attack and block with.

Two of the best removal spells in the format are Claustrophobia and Suppression Bonds, and Separatist Voidmage offers a huge swing by returning the enchanted creature while also sticking around to trade with something. Not only used to save its owner's own creatures, it also worked to bounce some of the more expensive cards in the format like Skysnare Spider or Sentinel of the Eternal Watch. It's not a permanent answer, but in a format that can be decided in the blink of an attack step, the tempo provided by Separatist Voidmage was unmatched.

3. Act of Treason

This is a card whose stock goes way up in Team Limited. If in your twelve packs you have the goods, the Black-Red sacrifice deck is the stone nuts. All you need are a couple copies of Act of Treason, maybe an Enthralling Victor, and a few Nantuko Husks. Just take their dude, hit them in the face with it, then get rid of it.

Even when you're not in the all-out sacrifice/steal build, Act of Treason can be Red's best way to obviate a big ol' bomb from your opponent. Sentinel of the Eternal Watch does not like being taken, neither does Outland Colossus or Managorger Hydra.

Act of Treason often plays the draft spoiler, but in Team Limited, it's a strategy all its own—and it's a good one. This card was tearing up the stream all weekend, and it felt real good to watch.

2. Sentinel of the Eternal Watch

It's been called the “mythic uncommon” for a reason. Not only is it just a huge creature at 4/6 for six mana, the ability to tap down an opponent's best creature immediately brought back many a player from a losing position.

Not only is it impactful, it's also extremely resilient. Most of the removal in the format is unable to effectively deal with a Sentinel. Suppression Bonds can stop it from attacking or blocking, but it doesn't stop it from tapping down a creature. Similarly, Wild Instincts needs assistance to remove the Sentinel, and Claustrophobia is also not a complete answer.

When it comes to power, Sentinel of the Eternal Watch checks every box and wins the vast majority of the games it's cast in. Few cards compared to it in Detroit.

1. Conclave Naturalists

Initially looked at as a card that could top a curve but wasn't really an all-star, Naturalists saw its value steadily rise over the weekend. With so many powerful cards at play in Team Sealed, the dryad's versatility and — extremely relevant — 4/4 body allowed it to swing many matches over the weekend.

Seemingly unbeatable cards like Mage-Ring Responder could beat many “answer” cards like Fetid Imp thanks to its on-attack ability, but it can't handle the Naturalists. And while the flashiest use of Conclave Naturalists may be destroying the opponent's bombs, the ability to simply clean up a Claustrophobia or Suppression Bonds meant that it was almost never a bad draw, and its power was never made clearer than when hall of famer William “Huey” Jensen selected it with his first pick in the Top 4 draft.

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