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Dragon’s Maze First Impressions April 26, 2013

Posted by James in : all, reviews, previews , trackback

I am not completely thrilled with Dragon’s Maze, but there is a lot to like about the set. Dragon’s Maze is a multi-color themed set with lots of two color spells. It’s the first pack that we will open during the Return to Ravnica drafts, which will be used to help us decide which three colors to play in our deck.

How should we judge the set? I think we should judge it based on the quality of cards, how fun the cards are, how fun it will be for limited, and the influence it will have on constructed formats. I don’t expect it to have a strong impact on constructed formats, so I will concentrate on the other three issues.

The quality of cards

There are some strong cards in the set, but what I like most is that there will be a ton of split cards in the set. I was expecting split cards because they were in the original Ravnica block, but I didn’t expect to see fifteen of them. Split cards are “fun,” but they are also quite powerful in general.

Not only that but the new split cards all have a new “fuze” mechanic that allows you to play both sides of the card at the same time. Sounds like a creative idea. I would have never expected to see a mechanic like that. It’s not super revolutionary, like split cards were, but it is a neat idea.

down and dirty

Down & Dirty is my favorite new split card. This is the best noncreature card with a Regrowth effect other than Regrowth itself.

A couple other notable powerful cards are the following:

ral zarek

Ral Zarek’s first ability can screw over the opponent’s ability to cast counterspells, get blockers out of your way, and/or untap your lands for mana acceleration. The second ability is a lightning bolt. The third ability is around two timewalks. All of those abilities matter, and starting at four loyalty is also decent.

vorel of the hull clade

Vorel is going to be a new obvious card to build an EDH (commander) deck around. Play things with counters, and add lots of counters to them. It’s the closest thing to making a general into a doubling season.

How fun it will be for limited

I am concerned about how fun this set will be for limited. The mana fixing is not particularly impressive. I’m glad that you get a nonbasic land in every pack, but that’s still only one guildgate per player on average. You are usually going to need to play a three color deck when playing limited, and that requires a lot of mana fixing. I played limited when Shards of Alara was out, which was also three colors. And at least one player seemed to stumble hard on mana (drawing too much, too little, or something else) about half the time. Shards of Alara’s mana fixing wasn’t good enough.

The mana fixing in Dragon’s Maze is a little better than in Shards of Alara, but it is not particularly impressive either. I’d rather just use the mana fixing from the original Ravnica. I liked the Signets, but I hate the Obelisks, Keyrunes, and Cluestones. Three mana for mana fixing is terrible. If you stumble on mana, then you are lucky if you can play artifact mana on turn three and play your first meaningful spell on turn four. That is terrible.

azorius cluestone

I have never wanted mana fixing that costs three mana. I refused to play Obelisks and Keyrunes. I hope to continue to refuse to play artifact mana. I don’t want to be forced to play this junk. I’d rather play a 40-card deck with 18 lands in it.

oblisk of jund

I played when Ravnica first came out. I played with Shadowmoor (another multicolor set) came out. I know that multicolor sets can have good mana fixing, and I know they can be some of the best sets for drafting. Shards of Alara was not made quite the right way, and Dragon’s Maze is not quite as good as I would like either.

I was worried the mana fixing wouldn’t be good enough as soon as I saw Return to Ravnica. It’s not as bad as I feared it would be, but it’s not as good as I hoped it would be either.

Dragon’s Maze has a lot to like about it, but it’s not as good as I hoped it would be.



1. michael - April 26, 2013

Voice of Resurgence is THE card from the set…at least in terms of money values.


2. James - April 27, 2013

Voice of Resurgence seems decent, but It’s not the card I’m most excited about.