The time has finally arrived: Dragon’s Maze has been released on store shelves and has finally hit Standard, and Limited and Constructed players alike are scrambling to figure out the set’s place in those respective environments. There are 166 cards that might appear in Dragon’s Maze booster packs, and every one of them is potentially important in one situation or another. Thus, I’ll be continuing on with my color-by-color and card-by-card run through of the entire set, moving forward from the black cards to the monored portion.
Awe for the Guilds – Strange as it sounds, the common red combat-manipulation sorcery in this set is more Constructed-playable than it is in Limited. This is a remarkably cheap way to get an alpha strike through on a board crowded with monocolor creatures – like, say, versus Werewolves. Presumably Theros block, too, will have very little multicolor threats. Not that this is terrible in Limited, it’s just got a bit of tension as to when to use it given the sheer amount of gold that people will be pulling and playing. It’s also kind of lulzy with Darkest Hour in EDH and kitchen-table formats.
Clear a Path – I have seen the future, and it is a sorcery-speed Tunnel. But seriously – why sorcery? It just baffles me that this couldn’t be an instant. Maybe it’s a big Gruul joke: Ruric Thar is so dumb, he has to have an empty stack in order to complete the thought processes necessary to smash through a wall.
Maze Rusher – Let’s be honest: This is something that’ll get played for its body. A 6/3 with haste for six mana is extremely respectable as a finisher. The haste-granting is not irrelevant, per se, but it only is worth anything on multicolor creature drops that come down after the Rusher – that is, hopefully at seven mana or more. Hence, the other Maze Elementals have much, much better abilities to grant. Thankfully its stats make up for it somewhat.
Possibility Storm – This is a complicated card, but I’ll be short and sweet about this: Worthless in competitive Constructed (unless you’re really lucky); fun in tabletop Magic in all its forms; positively punch-to-the-face-worthy in Limited.
Punish the Enemy – Don’t be turned off by the fact that this costs five mana and only removes relatively small creatures. If you think about the fact that it’s 6 total damage you’re throwing around, this is actually an incredible piece of burn. Blowing out a small or midrange threat can mean significant combat advantage, and 3 damage to the face is nothing to sneeze at against aggro decks of any kind, the kind of red aggro decks that Return to Ravnica block Limited produces least of all.
Pyrewild Shaman – I’m the teeniest bit disappointed that the recurring creature with bloodrush wasn’t a Phoenix, in the vein of Skarrgan Firebird, but development probably decided that granting flying along with pump repeatedly in red was a bit too much. In any case, a recurring combat trick that pumps power significantly and toughness marginally is good, as is a recurring 3/1 beater. The fact that this is and can be both, and is the only bloodrush creature capable of pulling double duty as a body and as +N/+N to an attacker on its own, makes this a favorite for Limited and Constructed alike.
Riot Piker – There still doesn’t exist a 2/1 red creature with first strike for 1R with no other text. Given that the color’s being pushed to get better weenies as of late, that’s both surprising and vaguely depressing. This isn’t bad, per se, but the fact that it can’t really be used on the defense beyond the first turn it’s down is disheartening. But you gotta love his attitude.
Rubblebelt Maaka – This is one of those boring bloodrush creatures that foregoes explosive combat abilities for silly things like “efficiency.” If you can find a slot for Slaughterhorn in your Gruul deck, you can find one for one that has plus one mana in its cost, plus 1 toughness, and red.
Smelt-Ward Gatekeepers – I find this member of the cycle vaguely ridiculous, in a good way: The thing you get for free with that triggered ability is the most expensive of all the spells that its cycle-mates emulate. If you have two or more Gates down when you drop this, you’re essentially only paying a single colorless mana for your 2/4 body. That’s an Extreme Couponing-level discount.
Weapon Surge – This is a cheap combat trick when cast normally, and, if you’re willing to spare the expense, can turn around entire games for 1R. Swing into a bunch of blockers/being swung into by a bunch of attackers? Whoops, looks like some of those “trades” or “creature losses” aren’t really disadvantageous to you now, are they?