You should buy From the Vault: Legends! If you can.
Mike Eaton, Play Unplugged
Wizards of the Coast has finally revealed the card list (with art) of From the Vault: Legends. This product is intended for at least two main types of buyers: Those who like the EDH format, and those whose player psychographic is Vorthos — that is, folks who like flavor and consistency in their art, text, card type, and abilities.
Unfortunately, these sets have a tendency to sell out to collectors and singles dealers, who break them up and sell the contents, thus rendering them all-but impossible to find at hobbyshops (at least here in Pittsburgh) and very expensive when you can find them. The MSRP for these guys is $34.99, or about $2.33 per card. If you can get it for that price, and you don’t already own any of the cards involved — and plan to use or trade them all — it might not be a bad deal. (But good luck!)
Let’s take a closer look at each one! (You can see the spiffy new art on many of them in the WotC link.)
Teferi, Mage of Zhalfir: One of the most playable (for casual play, anyway) blue creatures ever printed. He gives all of your cards Flash, and turns all opponents’ spells into Sorceries. He’s a fairly hardy general at 3/4, though his 5-mana cost is a little prohibitive, for how good he is — he will be the target in any EDH game where he sees the table, and that means you’ll need to have lots of mana to keep him coming. That said, he’s a staple creature that, perhaps, any of us planeswalkers who values blue mana should have around for our decks, EDH or otherwise. (Worth it!)
Kresh, the Bloodbraided: In the right deck — one built around sacrifice and mass destruction — Kresh is a brutal powerhouse. He can be a super-fun general, especially in a very large game. Being part black, he’s already slightly harder to 86 than many generals, and you can potentially ramp him up to a huge power and toughness right away, with the right board position. However, he’s super-cheap (in US Green Mana Dollars) right now, and his new art is — in my opinion — less fearsome and more mundane than his original art. Add this to the fact that it takes a lot of resources to put him in a 60-card strategy, and he’s so easy to get rid of, there. (Not worth it.)
Progenitus: First of all, I should note that Progenitus is tough to find for less than $10, right now; that might be enough convincing for some of you. As to its playability . . . erm, there was a time when cheating in a Progenitus with Dramatic Entrance was the most unbeatable thing you could find at a card shop. It’s still pretty scary. And cheating it into an EDH game with any number of things is the quickest way to get your deck banned from your playgroup. I don’t like the new art much, but here’s the decision I think you’ll have to make: while Progenitus is an awesome, powerful card, how are you going to play it without the folks at your play table groaning and readying to kill you? (Worth: Entirely up to you.)
Doran, the Siege Tower: Doran is a beast! Effectively he’s a 5/5 for three mana, and he stops your opponents’ creatures with overbearing power from using it (Sorry, Kamahl). He’s a great guy to build around, loading up with heavily defensive folks who will fight from their heart when Doran is on the table in EDH. One of the meanest, most solid decks I’ve ever seen — Lorwyn-block treefolk — has Doran at its core, as it pumps toughnesses into next week. As long as you’re cool running three colors, every family needs a Doran in their home. (Worth it!)
Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker: This guy is a combo menace, an abusive general, a fairly expensive Johnny card. Plus, his name is awesome. I hereby classify him Worth it– but I, personally, would probably never build a Kiki-Jiki deck. His interaction with other cards is either pointless or game-shattering; there’s no fun middle ground for me.
Sun Quan, Lord of Wu and Cao Cao, Lord of Wei: You might remember these guys from my article on cards you might not want to buy, though I explicitly state that I’m down with the Lord of Wu. Right now, these guys are way expensive. Sun Quan can make all your creatures all-but unblockable, and Cao Cao can make some opponent discard two cards every turn. Let’s say that if you can actually find this FTV product for $35, paying less than $2.50 per card, these two gentlemen are totally Worth it for EDH, alone. In a 60-card constructed deck . . . not so much. Though, I bet you’ll still get a lot of use out of those horses.
Captain Sisay: She’s cheap, she’s the leader of the coolest crew in Magic history, and she can recruit any legendary card from your deck. The potential for drawing any number of brilliant cards to cast is superb, here, whether it’s fellow FTV-er Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre or his twisted, game-winning Eldrazi buddy Emrakul — and that’s if you want to win. If you’re just looking for cool, you could grab the entire crew of the Weatherlight, the Weatherlight, itself, or any other famous creature or object from any era or storyline — right into your hand. There is nothing bad about the beautiful Captain Sisay. (Worth it!)
Omnath, Locus of Mana: The potential for a card that stops your mana from going away is something I don’t need to talk about. The fact that he gets bigger with each green mana in your pool is just icing on a very beastly cake. And the fact that all this is happening in green — a color known for producing more mana than there are copies of E.T. for Atari — makes Omnath one of the most deck-build-around-able creatures ever printed. (Worth it!)
Oona, Queen of the Fae: If you can create infinite blue mana — and I know you can if you try, you little devils — Oona can deck all of your opponents at once. She also costs more than $2.50 right now. And she’s a prominent figure in one of the most popular blocks in Magic history. I’ll just call it right here. (Worth it!)
Rafiq of the Many: Exalted is a strange mechanic to build around; it’s almost perfect for EDH, if you build the kind of deck where your general is an attacking machine. One swing from a lone Rafiq, with no alterations, deals 8 damage; that’s fairly impressive. However, it’s not all that interesting. Where Rafiq gets fun is when you give some other lone creature the +1s and Double Strike — one with a more interesting ability when it hits. He’s playable enough in all formats that if you like Bant colors and feel like building around him, Rafiq is a solid player, and he’s slightly pricey ($3-5), so picking him up with the rest of these guys is a just-as-solid plan. (Worth it!)
Sharuum, the Hegemon: She’s an artifact reanimator, which is why it’s a good thing (for the other player) that you can’t let Darksteel or Blightsteel sit in your graveyard. You can, however, bring back any of the most hated cards your opponents have chosen to get rid of, and rule the day under the Hegemon’s (literally) iron fist. As a general, Sharuum commands an impressive number of artifacts, many of them from the Esper shard of Alara like she is, and she’s a 5/5 flying body for six mana, in her own right. She would cost about as much off the rack as in this pack; what’s not to like? (Worth it!)
Visara the Dreadful: She’s a murderer. Tap her to bury a creature. A creature with that kind of power is just begging for inclusion into any deck that can support three black mana to cast her. Just like Sharuum, she’s a 5/5 flyer for six — so when all the other creatures are dead, Visara can just swing in for the kill. Also, she goes for about $5 in the shop, and I like this new art way better than the original; this Visara seems more realistically evil, while the other seems to belong in the (awesome, but highly stylistically rendered) Batman animated series. OK, maybe that was cooler for you; either way, this Visara is definitely Worth it!
Mikaeus, the Lunarch: An Innistrad preview card, Mikaeus is a general with X in his cost. You can play him for as little as 2 mana, or as much as all the manas. His ability allows him to pump himself up in order to pump up a creature army — and he looks like not only an exciting new general, but maybe a beast in a White Weenie strategy for the new Standard. He basically does what I always used to use Ajani Goldmane for, while being a potentially big, hip creature in his own right. I support Mikaeus 100 percent, and I welcome him to Magic: the Gathering. Worth it!
Wow. Well . . . I guess Kresh is feeling pretty lonely. But my job isn’t to coddle The Bloodbraided; it’s to figure out if we should pick up a new product. And my advice to you is, if you can actually find From the Vault: Legends somewhere and feel like building all the decks necessary to take advantage of the Magic inside? Go for it! A hundred times, go for it — there’s a lot of great stuff in that box just itching to be built.