When I first started writing this article I originally wanted to see if I could find overrated and underrated cards for every faction and dual-faction combination. Unfortunately there simply aren’t enough cards for me to find gems in every faction that were missed, or cards that are over hyped. So this list will not be complete, but I hope you discover some hidden gems by reading this article and possibly reevaluate some cards you might have written off a while ago.
Let’s lead things off with Primal where we’ll find a card that has received more than it’s fair share of eyebrow raising evaluations. Push Onward. Push Onward is one of those cards where people very often see a card like Wisdom of the Elders and simply decide it’s simply better than Push Onward and leave it at that. I don’t blame people being tripped up by this card since it operates on many different axises to be good, but it’s still a constantly underrated card. In order to evaluate Push Onward within the right contexts we have to peel back the layers on how many cards per power it’s reasonable to see with a single card. After some number crunching, it’s revealed that Push Onward is almost already two power undercost for many cards it sees relative to other filtering effects. Combine this with the fact that Push Onward also has a ritual effect stapled onto it by reducing the cost of a card by one power and Push Onward becomes a card that essentially provides six power worth of effects for only three power. Push Onward is a card this is deceptively cheap for its effects, and will be a cornerstone of Primal control decks as long as it’s in the format.
My most overrated card in Primal is the prime contender for hyped over evaluations, as far too many people love to decry that it’s “1 power kill anything in the game” and “the best removal spell bar none” – Permafrost.
It’s a Pacifism. With a targeting restriction. That can fall off from a single endurance buff, be removed by a fair share of main deckable cards such as Marshall and Infinite Hourglass, is basically invalidated by any Stonescar strategy that has sacrifice outlets and a whole host of other cards. Is it good in decks that want to drive aggression with cheap effective spells to remove blockers? Absolutely. Is it the 5.0 removal spell of our dreams? I’m gonna go with a solid “Nah.”
Now, after writing off one piece of one power removal I might as well go for the back to back right? Our next overrated card is Torch. Don’t get me wrong, Torch is a solid efficient powerful card that is one of the best removal spells and the main incentive to play fire in basically any deck that isn’t trying to kill your by turn five. It’s simple over-played and it’s “reach” is over valued which leads to people making the mistake of simply shoving four Torch into any deck they think wants the effect. The problem is that people will sleeve up four torches in a format full of 3/4s, 2/5s, 2/4s and 3/5s and ignore other efficient offerings. Torch is simply weaker due to the statlines of creatures being played, and is even weaker due to prevelance of Rakano and Torch’s inherit weakness to weapons. I’m by no means saying stop playing your Torches, but too many factors in Eternal’s metagame right now makes playing four seem like you’re falling back on old mental shortcuts instead of evaluating it within it’s current context.
Since we’re still in Fire, I’ll go ahead and touch on our most underrated card in Fire for quite a long time. Censari Brigand. This creature is a essentially a 4/2 with haste for three when it connects, scales incredibly well with any sort of weapon and plays so nicely with Bandit Queen you’d wonder why the deck hasn’t been playing her since the start. Unfortunately in these decks she tends to be pushed out by cards like Champion of Chaos or Impending Doom. If there was ever a time for Bandit Queen to be as low as to the ground as possible that time is now, and Censari Brigand slots wonderfully into the role of heavy hitter that demands a blocker or a removal spell. Here’s hoping she’ll find a home in an archetype soon, because she definitely deserves one.
Finally, the last removal spell that costs one power on this list, I promise. Underrated despite a target rich environment Suffocate is criminally underplayed. We’re at peak units that have three or less power but dodge torch and even annihilate (Bloodcaster, Maiden, Stranger, Steward of the Past, Siraf among others) and Suffocate is nowhere to be seen. Even in lists that don’t have access to a card like Torch simply aren’t playing it. Suffocate is probably at the best it will ever be right now, and I generally recommend playing three copies in straight Feln and playing a 2/3 split between it and Torch in SFP strategies. The fact it isn’t a fast spell is usually not a problem in most matchups and in others force you to play the card correctly simply by virtue of the fact you can’t play it at fast speed.
Before we get into what I’m sure will be referred to in the future as “A rant, possibly the ravings of an insane man.” I would like to note that Crownwatch Commando was originally on this list as a great card in Rakano for the mirror and a way to jump over the odd x/5s in the format. Luckily everyone wised up pretty quickly and he became a known bit of technology in the past few days.
Finally, we come to what I feel is one of the greatest sins committed by Eternal players everywhere. Playing ramp decks with only four ways to actually accelerate into a turn three bomb. Not only does Sauropod Wrangler act as Initiate of the Sands 5-8 in most situations, playing both Initiate and Wrangler allow you to have powerful nut draws. A single wrangler combined with a Initiate of the Sands is able to play cards such as Marshall Ironthrone or Reality Warden as early as turn three.
Not only does Wrangler allow for more explosive draws, but it out scales Initiate of the Sands as you put additional copies into play or draw multiple five attack threats. Much like the banned Eye of Ugin, Wrangler ends up generating more power the more things you have to do with it and can even make cards such as Sandstorm Titan as cheap as only two power. Adding Wrangler to your ramp decks makes them infinitely more explosive, more resilient to cards such as Vara’s Favor and Plague and makes the more consistent as well.
The power level of Combrei Ramp shoots up when you’re now twice as likely to be able to put a Sandstorm Titan into play on turn three, and it sky rockets when you open yourself to curving Initiate, Wrangler, Marshall, Siraf and starting to activate Siraf as early as turn five. Don’t just take my word for it, just look at the results the deck is capable of when it is playing eight effects that actually accelerate the deck.
This is a BO3 tournament build for Combrei Ramp that follows Hypermana deckbuilding philosophy as closely as possible (Hypermana Philosophy is a series of tenets written by Magic pro Zvi Mowshowitz describing how to effectively build ramp decks) that I recently 5-0’d the swiss portion of a Scion’s League event with. (I would pick up my top 8 loss in the semis, can’t run perfect I suppose)
4 x Initiate of the Sands
2 x Desert Marshal
4 x Sauropod Wrangler
4 x Dawnwalker
4 x Siraf, Crownwatch Hero
4 x Sandstorm Titan
4 x Marshal Ironthorn
4 x Reality Warden
4 x Mystic Ascendant
2 x Predatory Carnosaur
3 x Secret Pages
2 x Ancient Lore
4 x The Great Parliament
4 x Xenan Obelisk
9 x Justice Sigil
9 x Time Sigil
4 x Combrei Banner
4 x Seat of Progress
2 x Desert Marshal
3 x Combrei Healer
2 x Predatory Carnosaur
2 x Harsh Rule
3 x Stand Together
2 x Healer’s Cloak
1 x Infinite Hourglass
Unfortunately in our current Party Hour metagame, Ramp decks simply don’t interact on the axises required to pressure their combo and aren’t fast enough to pressure their life total in an attempt to race. In this meta game I’d attack the ladder with one of the two decks, either play Party Hour or try to go under them with Rakano sligh. Hopefully we’ll be seeing a nerf to either Champion of Cunning or some other card that enables the deck to ignore it’s opponent for six or seven turns and then kill them with a Champion of Cunning fueled Witching Hour OTK. If you simply just love ramping into big fatties though, this is definitely the deck for you and with a nerf aimed at Party Hour on the horizon isn’t a bad choice to for the upcoming September ranked season.
Thanks so much for reading my article, there were a few other cards that could have made this list and just didn’t quite make it. If you have a card you think is underrated or overrated let me know in the comments! I’m always eager for fresh perspectives and would love to chat about it with all you lovely people who read my articles. Feel free to also reach out to me on twitter or catch me during a stream on Twitch with any questions you have about either the decks I’ve been playing or even the tournaments I’ve been playing in!
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