The Top 5 Cards in Magic 2011 (Leaf)

Magic 2011 is out for the world to see, and more.  M11 is here for us to judge, and judge it we shall, starting with the very cream of the crop.  With each new set Gathering Magic (all both of us) weigh in on our favorites, or the cards we think will make the biggest impact, or the ones that seem the most powerful, or have the most potential.  The best is a combination of all of these aspects.  The following, in reverse order, are Leaf's best five cards in Magic 2011.

5. Mitotic Slime - Jund has ruled standard for over a year by packing every two-for-one card it can find into one smooth build.  One of the staple residents of said plane is the Sprouting Thrinax.  Quite an annoying little bugger, reproducing after is dies, either to produce more chump-block fodder or continue the aggro beat-down.  Consider Mitotic Slime the new and improved version of the original Thrinax – more power, more tokens left behind, and for only a couple more mana.  At the very least MS will clog up the ground long enough to produce some heavy-hitters of your own.  Despite coming in at #5, this ooze could see the most constructed play outside #1.

4. Grave Titan -
When Captain of the Watch was confirmed as MIA in M11, a suitable replacement was in order.  Not everyone will see the connection, but it is there.  CotW put nine power on the battlefield spread across four creatures for six mana, an amazing value.  The GT actually one-ups the white lord by throwing ten power on the table from three creatures, for the same mana-cost, and the possibility of infinitely more.  More power, more creatures, more everything.  This Mythic is more than a replacement, he is an upgrade.  Put it this way, there will be an open sleeve for this monster in almost every black-splashed EDH deck out there.

3. Leyline of Punishment -
Taken as a whole, the Leylines of M11 are pretty impressive.  The ultimate side-board friendly enchantments – cards that can give you a needed boost, or really screw your opponents strategy, and sometimes manage to do both at the same time.  Of the five, Punishment stands out above the others for one reason: Red Deck Wins.  A recent flurry of Top 8s and PTQ wins (according to mean the tried and true Burn Deck is alive and kicking.  Leyline of Punishment gets the nod at #3 because it will be an auto four-of in every RDW side-board. And it’s free half the time as an added bonus.

2. Nantuko Shade -
Talk about a blast from the not-so-distant past, the Nantuko Shade is one of the best back aggro creatures ever.  A turn two NS can be attacking for 5 points of damage.  That is a faster clock than Woolly Thoctar, with a much simpler mana base.  Nantuko Shades were very common in tournament MTG when Torment was first released, thanks in large part to Dark Ritual and a small horde of shadow-wielding baddies.  As of now, this undead insect doesn’t fit in a Standard archetype (especially with the sad fact he isn’t a vampire), but casual and Limited formats will give NS plenty of room to shine.

1. Baneslayer Angel -
Usually with the #1 slot on these lists, you can expect a bit of a surprise.  Something that may not get everyone excited, but fills a missing niche.  What has that philosophy led to?  In Worldwake it meant Chain Reaction over Jace, the Mind Sculptor for starters.  In fact, neither of the two blue cards on this list were Jace.  Magic 2010 saw Silence at #1, and Darksteel Colossus on the list too, but no BSA.  Zendikar had the uber-hyped Lotus Cobra as a slight miss, while Alara Reborn nailed #1 (Maelstrom Pulse), then promptly missed Bloodbraid Elfentirely.  This space has tried too many times to be unique and different.  Not today.  Baneslayer Angel is the best card in Magic 2011, end of story.

What balance should Black strike?

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