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Mercadian Masques, Part Ten

Gary Wise

Continuing my analysis of Mercadian Masques for booster draft, the following are a few reflections on the set's uncommons.

A few thoughts

The uncommon slots are pretty good to black, whose mediocre common creature base is augmented by a number of uncommon powerhouses. Black's uncommons provide the color with synergy, with the uncommon searchers fetching three casting cost Mercenaries who would otherwise be substandard. A strong grouping.

Uncommons

Cateran Enforcer - Hell on wheels. This card, the best uncommon creature in the set, is an absolute wrecking ball. It's a four power, Highway robber fetching, unblockable beast that usually spells the end of the game in a few turns. I don't care if you don't like black, if you open this guy, build your deck around him.

Primeval Shambler - Another absolute beast, this little fella takes a look at green fatties and laughs, often getting into the 7/7 or 8/8 range with ease. The value of this card changes with the amount of black one is playing, but unlike the 1/1 black pumper creatures of the past, it's even worth playing if black is your support color. How dumb is it that there are cards that can search for these two!

Cateran Kidnappers - The bountiful return continues with yet another creature that would be solid if it didn't have the very powerful search ability. At four mana for four power, this guy can obviously beat down, but also fetches Grifters, Brutes, Fugitives and Smugglers, thinning your deck of mediocrity while giving you free creatures. A fine first pick.

Haunted Crossroads - a lot of people aren't that high on this card, but I really like it for it's ability to make one's Mercenaries unkillable (they die, activate Crossroads, search). Its for this reason I like Crossroads best with white's rebels, but red's direct damage creature can be equally efficient with it.

Deepwood Legate - I'm a big believer in having a base color instead of dividing a deck evenly, so I rank this card highly. Like the Shambler, in a heavy black deck, this potentially free creature can dominate a game. A 3rd-5th pick.

Molting Harpy - An underrated card, the Harpy is the only substantial flyer black has, making it a very valuable commodity. The biggest problem with this usually free beast is the way people misplay it, often dropping it turns 3-5 and depriving themselves of mana. Don't make the mistake of playing this as a blocker early, as smart players will only hold back and further develop their board resources while the Harpy's upkeep disables your ability to keep up.

Scandalmonger - At worst a 3/3 fatty, this card is often so much more. Usually the last card one plays, the monger will often get large card advantage due to aggressive casting on the owner's part. On top of that, combined with Waterfront Bouncer, you can 'kill' any creature on the table by returning it to your opponent's hand and making them discard. In my opinion, the second best Monger.

Cackling Witch - Still in the 3rd-5th pick range, the Witch is best in an aggressively oriented deck with regenerators and/or fliers. Not entirely subtle, the Witch becomes a lot more effective when you're on the offensive with superior numbers, giving you the option of killing their best blocker or doing extra damage.

Deathgazer - A solid creature who should make just about any deck, the Gazer becomes especially strong with Undertaker or Rushwood Herbalist, trading for opposing fatties who were picked much higher than it was.

Cateran Summons - The value of this card depends entirely of the other cards in your deck. Incredible with the Cateran Overlord, Cateran Slaver or Cateran Enforcer, the Summons becomes entirely mediocre if you only have common Mercenaries, but can still be used as a deck-thinning device if you're desperate for a 23rd card.

Enslaved Horror - One of the best 4th turn plays in the environment, the problem is that it becomes virtually useless after their first creature dies, which is often early when you're playing black. The Horror becomes a little better with each spellshaper you play, as they give the card a mid-game use.

Intimidation - An excellent sideboard card, I usually prefer to start it there unless I'm playing 11 Swamps or more. Just be careful of the surprise Disenchant, as an aggressive attack can lead to virtual dismemberment.

Strongarm Thug - Like Cateran Summons, this card's strength depends on the other cards in one's deck. Unlike the Summons though, its uses are limited, so I'd only start it if you have one of the Mercenary powerhouses or have multiple ways to search for it.

Rain of Tears - Sometimes you just need a 23rd card. Good with other forms of land destruction.

Larceny - A decent ability, it just isn't worth the mana

Putrefaction - Ditto

Quagmire Lamprey - a 1/1 beatdown creature for 3...if its ability worked when blocking, it would be a little better.

Ghoul's feast - Undertaker... Haunted crossroads...this card just doesn't do it.

Pretender's Claim - Huh???!?



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