To tell the truth, I was a bit nervous when this set was announced, but not for the same reasons everyone else was nervous about the set. Everyone was worried that this set's power level would be close to the original Mirrodin block, which in turn would bring about the second coming of affinity and everyone will leave the tournament scene in droves again. I actually had some faith that R&D wouldn't repeat that mistake again. My primary concern was that the set would be nerfed too much, and it would be bad and underpowered. I didn't want it to feel like the Esper shard in Alara, which I felt was by far the weakest of the shards.
Thankfully, I think the set is pretty good, and I feel like Wizards did a good job finding a suitable power level for an artifact block. Metalcraft seems to have the same kinds of explosive plays that Affinity did, but without the consistency that Affinity had. I love the flavor of Infect, although I'm sure every casual FNM player in the world is going to build an infect deck. I really like the interesting card designs that the imprint mechanic allows. The only mechanic that I'm not a fan of in this set is proliferate. I find it sorta boring and the design seems limited and clunky. That's not to say that the cards with proliferate are bad though, they're just boring.
I wanted to do a more in depth review of this set, but its hard for me to properly gauge the sets power level without playing it a bunch first. Instead, I just want to share my initial impression of some of my favorite cards in the set. Below is not a list of the best cards in the set, they are just cards that sorta stuck out to me for whatever reason.
I think this is an interesting variant for the wrath effect of the set. Obviously, it combos very nicely with Gideon (the curve fits too). I don't know if this is actually good enough to see play in Standard, but Luke has a couple EDH decks she could fit in.
I have very fond memories playing Rage Reflection in EDH, and this is the even better. Plus, it can go into my Knight themed EDH deck. It doesn't really have much constructed playability, so it should always be cheap to pick up too.
I really just like it when they print aggressive blue cards. Blue based aggro decks are one of my favorite archetypes. Obviously this card has lots of combo applications too (I'm looking at you Pili-Pala!)
I told you proliferate cards were boring. Regardless, I still like this card as a cheap way to help fuel things like Pyromancer Ascension.
Finally, red gets a good planeswalker. He seems very dependent on mountains, so I think that he won't end up meeting all of his initial hype as people realize that he doesn't fit in every deck packing red. Regardless, I still think he's very good and I'm excited to build a deck with him in Standard.
Kai Budde's wildfire deck is probably my favorite tournament deck of all time. After playing with that deck, I gained a huge appreciation for artifact heavy red decks. This guy is going straight into my red/artifact edh deck, and possibly the red standard deck I plan on brewing with Koth.
This guy seems like a really good mono black general. I'm not sure how much play he'll see in constructed since it seems like the infect based decks will be faster aggro rather than mid range.
I mostly like this card because of its design. It also happens to be nuts in EDH. Too bad I don't have a deck which can use it :(
There has been a lot of hype on the internet surrounding this card because of its similarities to Skullclamp. I think some of this hype is unjustified, but its still a good card. I'll definitely be play testing it once the rest is officially released.
I think people are severely underestimating this dragon. His second activated ability is a little bit confusing, but it basically says that when you deal damage on an opponent, you get to blow up most of their board using a powder keg. Unlike powder keg however, this dragon destroys enchantments and planeswalkers too, giving black and red some more ways to get rid of problem enchantments. I wouldn't be surprised if he found a home in constructed since this dragon packs a lot of power.
I'll be going to the pre-release this Sunday, so I'll finally get a chance to be able to evaluate these cards properly. Until then ... I guess enjoy this kitty: