Sunday, 19 September 2021

Preliminary Review Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Part XI


Katilda, Dawnheart Headwitch 2

I like this but it is quite a lot of do nothing text. The protection is near useless in cubes. The counters is so expensive that it isn't useable that often and unlikely to be impressive when it is. It will ultimately win a board stall, which I guess is nice for a ramp dork to be able to do but still. The best thing here is the ability to turn your other dorks into mana dorks. Cool but something Rishkar already does and he isn't all that. Rishkar is also much better tempo, less narrow, and just the one colour. Mostly Katilda falls down on being a gold mana dork, the bar for them is so so high. I might play this in a human deck based in these colours. That might is itself pretty damning pretty damning. 

Sigardian Savior 3

This is loads of value and tempo. It is however not really a card that stands alone all that well. You need to have targets in the bin and in order to do that you need to avoid some disruption and build with a high density of targets. This limits the card to certain archetypes. Yes, in a control deck where you can recur a Wall of Omens and a Jace or a Charming Prince then the card is a joke but it won't be that, you just don't have the density of targets. In a beatdown deck you will much more often but then there are two more problems. Firstly a five drop is a bit top heavy, you want a bit more punch and a bit less value. Secondly, a lot of your targets will be little beaters which are a whole lot less useful at the five mana mark. The potential power of this card is rather undone by the awkward way it matches up with archetypes.

Thraben Exorcism 1

Not enough targets for this. Likely not even going to see play as a sideboard tool. 

Organ Hoarder 1

Impressive value dork but four is the point on the curve in cube where cards have to threaten rather than just setup well and offer some value. 

Jack-o'-Lantern 3

Love this card, really love the mana fixing mode but I can't see ever running it in a limited setting. As yard disruption it is lacking punch and that is the primary function. It is two mana to cycle without achieving all that much. The best hope for this is in decks with lots of self mill and discard that have a need to fix mana, say a deck leaning on red rituals to go off but also wanting to use some non-red mana as part of going off for example. 

Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset 5

Likely the weakest Teferi although that isn't saying all that much. The issue here is that this is poor at protecting itself. It also needs to -2 if it wants to get value meaning it is low loyalty as well as vulnerable to the board. You have to make the +1 do a lot of work for you before this is even close to Architect of Thought, which is now a very fair and baseline level planeswalker for cube. This Tef will also need to significantly surpass that bar to get into cube being gold. So how do you make the +1 on this good? Mostly it will be about having a couple of those types that produce mana, a BoP or a Talisman plus your land. Every now and again it will be tapping down a blocker so as to attack an opposing planeswalker. Sometimes it will be tapping down land so as to help force through a spell in your turn. Disruption and protection beyond that are minimal as you just pass the turn and they all untap ready to produce mana and attack. The +1 is versatile and has some scaling you can try (and kind of need) to take advantage of. If you can get three mana or more out of the effect with some big mana producing permanents or a spread of all three then it is more exciting but this is all just more narrowness slapped on. The ultimate isn't even that winning, it will eventually, or at least deck you! As for right away the effects are pretty calm and reliant on other stuff you have going on. This dude has a great ceiling. He generates all the primary resources (life, cards, and mana) while having a good degree of versatility. In the right deck he is good but that deck is going to be hard to draft resulting in a card that is narrower as well as less effective than your entry level walkers like Garruk Wildspeaker and Architect of Thought. 

Rite of Oblivion 7

This is impressive but I am a little wary. Less so with the sacrifice than I am about the sorcery speed and being gold. Orzhov is utterly spoilt for removal and has all the very best. Realistically you can only fit two or three pure removal spells from the guild in your cube. Needing to sac something is a drawback but a pretty negligible one in a number of decks. It does more to make this narrower than it does to hurt the power. Rite of Oblivion is low cost, exile quality and comprehensive target range. The real temptation here is the flashback. Not only is it a great card to have flashback on the cost of doing so is really low. Like Utter End is an actual spell...  Without the flashback I would easily say stick to cards like Bone Shards, Vanishing Verse, or Anguished Unmaking. With the flashback this might just be too good to be held back by some narrowness. This just gives so much control over a game for very little card or mana cost. As far as budget cubes go this looks like an absolutely premium removal spell. I think this will outperform Vanishing Verse but it will be more polar and I imagine it will also see a bit less play resulting in me be much more likely to cut the Rite of Oblivion.


Bereaved Survivor // Dauntless Avenger 1

While this is potentially very powerful it has too many ifs to be a standout cube card. You need it to live which isn't super easy being a three drop with minimal toughness and no other means of protection. You then need it to flip and then you need to be able to attack with it while having targets in the bin to recur. The risk of just getting a 2/1 for three mana here is too great for this to be playable despite a reasonable power level and seemingly easy set of conditions. It is the cumulative effect of those conditions that push this into the basically unplayable ranks. 

Morbid Opportunist 5

This is a rejigged Midnight Reaper which itself has been a decent cube card for some time. Reaper isn't so good I want multiple so it is going to be a case of which is more powerful and more suitable of the two. While Opportunist has some perks I am coming down on the side of Reaper. The Reaper is a more relevant body to have in play and also a safer one being able to replace itself with a card if answered. Reaper has better creature types and does a better job of protecting against mass removal too thanks to unrestricted triggering. The advantages of Opportunist are that it works with tokens and that it doesn't cost life. There are situations in which I would rather play the Opportunist but for the average situation this will not be the case and so this will not be in my drafting cube. Potent enough to get a test but familiar enough to not need a very long one. Utterly unreasonably levels of card advantage for a set booster draft or sealed at least! 

Slaughter Specialist 5

Cool design and a very high ceiling. You could easily steal a game with this quickly. It would not be at all hard to attack with this as a 5/5 on turn three. This is both high tempo and high threat and I suspect the average performance will be pretty solid. My main concern here is high risk. Every now and again this will let them hit you with a Jitte you didn't expect or use Grist to immediately kill the Specialist etc. There are just a few too many ways things can go very wrong when you give your opponents dorks. I will give this a little test but I don't see the payoff being worth the risk. This is just a beater and even good risk free ones of those above one mana get very little cube love. 

Unnatural Moonrise 1

Sorcery limits the utility of the card and increases the risk. Add on top of that a situational gold card and you wind up with a pretty unplayable spell. For this to be worth it you need the night to be relevant and in cube draft it will not be. Some mild potential in tribal decks but that is all. 

Saturday, 18 September 2021

Preliminary Review Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Part X


Suspicious Stowaway // Seafaring Werewolf 8

RIP Looter il-Kor. This is simply better and by a good margin too. It wasn't a card type drying out for redundancy either. Looter il-Kor did a lot of work in cube as a support card filling up the bin, a card quality card getting you the right stuff to play, and an offensive card applying pressure with evasion. The latter might sounds laughable until you play a Sword of Something or Other and that unblockable aspect suddenly looks terrifying. The main thing Stowaway has over Looter on the front side is that it can block which isn't something you want to do but it is huge when you need to. With no flipside this is more than enough better than Looter. Old il-Kor Looter is still a fine card but it will be seeing massively less play no that we have this instead. The backside is where Stowaway gets really impressive. It is also easy to flip this yourself if required with it being cheap to flop out and blue thus easily supported with relevant instants. A 2/1 unblockable Thieving Magpie is amazing. Loads of value, lots of threat. It can kill people and walkers with the damage sometimes but mostly the overwhelming card advantage will do it. The Werewolf is a must kill. It is easy to do so but that is fine on a card so cheap and likely to have already done good work. We always used to joke that Looter il-Kor was the Lava Axe Looter as it always seemed to get in five free damage. If this does that kind of living it will often get an extra Lava Spike and Ancestral Recall on top for free! I expect this to see more play than Dark Confidant. It certainly has a higher ceiling too and would not be stunned if the average performance of the cards was close. 

Sigarda's Splendor 3

Curious card that seems impressive in a build around and a bit risky and polar in a cube draft setting. This offers cards and life which is amazing in a soul sisters deck or similar. The cost is quite high but given how much it does I would be hard pressed to leave it out of many builds. In a cube setting this is a big tempo loss which usually results in losing life. Things can then spiral as your card resembles a four mana Fountain of Renewal and never draws you a card. That might be OK verses a red deck but it isn't good. Against other aggressive decks it is just not gong to be enough without the card draw. Against slower decks you will be more able to trigger the drawing but the lifegain will matter a bit less. This feels a bit like the white Court card which was good but had really unpleasant polar play patterns and so got cut.

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned 7

Well now, this does a lot. Super Snapcaster Mage. Comically the first line of text here is a huge nerf to the card rather than a good thing. The most oppressive use for this would simply be in a control deck where you get to use all your counterspells twice and utterly lock down the game. That obviously isn't fun for at least one player. While it makes the card sensible it does also make it narrow for cube. Without counterspells what are you doing with this? Just drawing a load of cards with recast Serum Visions and the like? Perhaps you are going ham in a burn heavy deck? There are some good things to do but it is quite late in the day for the blue sorts of things. You likely need to make this on five and hope it lives so as to have a Yawmoth's Will style turn. I guess Time Walk effects are in fact the most abusive with this which is arguably less fun than the counterspells plan... Luckily those are on the decline in cubes. Lier certainly doesn't lack for power but there are a lot of red flags as well. Very polar, in need of support, narrow, anti-synergy with a core blue thing. I'll give this a lot of testing but I imagine this is a card I will not be keeping in the cube all that long despite the pretty foolish amount of power.

Moonsilver Key 1

A cheap support card and mild tutor effect. The overall mana cost is reasonable but the split is a little bit sub par and will prevent this getting used in most places. Really this only has a chance if you have a specific mana rock you are looking to find for a combo. The power is too low to be of interest more generally. 

Slogurk, the Overslime 2

Very durdly card that doesn't do high impact stuff or really anything much rapidly. There are certainly some places in which this scales nicely and offers good support but those are constructed places not drafted ones. A maybe card for land decks isn't exactly a widely playable card. 

Vadrik, Astral Archmage 0

This is just an overcost Baral / Electromancer. The extra reduction isn't worth the wait, certainly not the extra cost. In EDH this will do some good work but in cube this is to be avoided. cost reduction cards are not as rare as they used to be and three mana ones have to be exceptional to get a look in. Yes, you can pair this with pump to do big stuff but that is so convoluted and narrow and at cross purposes to the kinds of things such a deck wants to be doing. 

Skaab Wrangler 2

This is one of the better uses for decayed dorks I have seen. The cost is quite high to use and the body is fragile and low relevance which should combine to keep this out of most cubes. In constructed decks expecting to have a load of token dorks kicking around this has some hope of play. It can offer a lot of control over a game once the game is established while being a cheap card to deploy. 

Outland Liberator // Frenzied Trapbreaker 7

Pretty low power utility dork here. Green does want a smattering of dorks than can Naturalize stuff and this is pretty good but not clearly great. As such it just joins the pile of options that mildly vary in performance based on your cube design and the meta. The front end is a low powered but pleasantly mono coloured Qasali Pridemage. Proactive is nice as you can just flop it out whenever which is a perk over Reclamation Sage. The 2/1 left over body when you eventually cast it doesn't really make up for when it is doing nothing useful in hand. The flip side of this is interesting. There are lots of things you can Disenchant that you wouldn't waste a card on such as clues. Trapbreaker isn't so good that I would be playing it at three mana. At two it is decent certainly but I don't expect it to flip often or quickly so overall it adds only bit to the total potency. Test worthy for sure but anticipating a fairly low end cube card at best. More of a stopgap than a card you actively want. 

Ludevic, Necrogenius // Olag, Ludevic's Hubris 1

This is a two mana 2/3 that mills a bit to start with. Not impressive at all in other words. Give me a looter or something like a Mire Triton instead please. You have to want the flipside and that is another 5 mana just to get a 5/5 copy of something. Yes, it can scale up a bit in size and in terms of the effect of the cloned card but that isn't impressive. This is costly to use and likely just better as a Scarab God or even a Zombify... A very gold card with lots of hoops to jump through and lots of mana investment required for uninspired payoff. 

Rem Karolus, Stalwart Slayer 2

Part Tajic (Legion's Edge) and part Torbran. Mostly this is a Skyknight Legionnaire! It will buff a couple of your spells, it is pretty unlikely to prevent much damage. That isn't enough extra return, or indeed reliable enough return for this to cut it. Lots of power but more of a hoser card than a thing you just play. Against burn they just kill this. With burn you are going to be lucky to get more than a couple of extra damage out of this at which point play something with more impact, a harder hitting threat or some means of getting value. 

Friday, 17 September 2021

Preliminary Review Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Part IX


Griseldaddy's Mask 4

A lot of potential here but a lot of mana and phaffing around needed. You have double scaling firstly thanks to powering up a dork with flying and lifelink and secondly when cashing it in for a pile of cards. For this to be good you need sac outlets. It is too much mana and too little in the way of added threat to be able to rely on your opponent triggering the card draw for you. You need to be in control of a card as un-manoeuvrable as this. It is a supreme Skullclamp when going well but it seems like it is too needy and unwieldy to be a cube card. Close thanks to high power levels though. 

Dryad's Revival 2

An overcost Regrowth isn't playable by itself. The flashback is cute but remains sufficiently overcost that you can't play this as a value tool either. The only home I can see for this is as a rarely used piece of security for a graveyard self mill sort of deck like a Mistveil Plains, Krosan Reclamation, or Conjurer's Bauble. 

Diregraf Horde 1

Comically this is one of the better black army in a can cards. Not great but dangerously close to the mythic in the set... I would only consider this in a cheat in zombie sort of situation so as to bolster numbers and even then it is probably still a no. 

Curse of Surveillance 1

Overkill is what we have here. I am only playing this if I can easily cheat it out thanks to the curse sub-type. 

Sacred Fire 2

This is a long way off either Lightning Helix or Firebolt for power and playability. It doesn't pack much punch and isn't very mana efficient. The life on Helix is near free compared to the par mana cost for burn, the same is true of the flashback on Firebolt. With this the cost is there just resulting in a bad burn spell. 

Sungold Sentinel 5

This has lots of text but it is all a bit aimless. The card is just a beater and not a very exciting one. The exile is a perk but it doesn't really marry up with a beater all that well. It adds little more than the exile abilities on Mardu Woe Reaper which do less than it's type to set it apart from Savannah Lions... As for the coven ability it is expensive and situational. In a drawn out game it becomes threatening and can afford some reach. In the early game however it might as well be blank. This just seems to vanilla for cube play. Lots of power so worth a mild test but not expecting much of of this beyond some padding of lists. 

Willow Geist 3

Lots of promise but probably not much use. None of these things really line up other than the capacity to grow and having trample. The life isn't of much interest nor is a cheap beater in a deck full of means to have cards leave the bin. Perhaps in some Bridgevine sort of deck this has appeal but I am wary of how reliably you can trigger it. Feels like it could be a win more card. Things are already good if you are making Hogaak and Vengevines, a +1/+1 counter isn't that much of a thing... Certainly far too narrow outside of synergy builds. 

Wake to Slaughter 2

This card is all over the place. You give options to your opponent which is always a bit awkward. Then we have part Reanimate (well, Shallow Grave) effect and part Raise Dead effects, one of which is combo and the other value. Raise Dead here reduces the effectiveness of other Reanimate cards, to include the second coming of this.. The flashback is also value based. Mostly it doesn't matter much as it is gold, needy, and situational. I am not even sure I would be able to sensibly build around this. A lot of power here but on quite the ineffective card. 

Overwhelmed Archivist // Archive Haunt 6

This seems to be comparable to Champion of Wits. A bigger front end with a smaller loot and a smaller recursion with a rather lower cost. Overall this is probably more use in (non-combo) cubes than Champion even if it is less powerful overall. This just does rather more early being that bit bigger. Much as this is a seemingly better iteration of a card that has been in cube since it came out it is very much a card on the decline. Champion is low threat, low tempo, and offers no value until overly late in the game. I suspect it will not be long before neither of these cards remain in cube. I find that I just much prefer the likes of Cloudkin Seer and Sea Gate Oracle for their direct and clean design.

Spellrune Painter // Howler 1

Bad prowess dork is bad. This just lacks threat and demands too much of your deck and play patterns to be worth running. In a synergy prowess deck I am after cheaper stuff and even in a tribal list I am not into this as it will be primarily dork based.

Reckless Stormseeker // Storm-Charged Slasher 7.5

This is a 3/3 haste for three by itself which is a solid starting point. Then it is able to empower any subsequent plays you make greatly increasing the danger the card poses. It isn't quite Fervor but given you get to smack for 3 with it right away, it is a 2/3 body, it has a mild pump, and it flips into a bigger badder version, it is a much more appealing means to gain the Fervor sort of an effect. Flipped the card gets oppressive being a more formidable body itself and giving a bigger buff complete with trample. That should end a lot of games in fairly short order. A good card pre flip and a scary one post flip is a winner. The power isn't insane but it is fine, the suitability and relative safety is what carries this. Giving haste is powerful but it is situational and not worth a card which is the cost when playing things like Lightning Greaves and Harsh Mentor. Slower cards like Urabrask which have that safety in not costing you a card thanks to a relevant body are a bit late in the day for the haste to be all that exciting. Stormseeker hits a  sweet spot in cost and power where it can give haste at a relevant point in the game while still having enough power itself to be considered worth a card. 

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Preliminary Review Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Part VIII


Vanquish the Horde 5

So many interesting Wraths getting printed these days. The issue here is that this is hurt when people are playing around Wraths and that is something you should expect as a player running Wraths! If people simply hold back dorks a bit then not only is this only getting a couple of kills it is also costing a mana or two more than a Wrath. The ceiling on this is obviously amazing when you can do hugely impactful double spell plays in the midgame or just utterly decimate someone who has managed to get 5 or more dorks in play by your turn three. This sort of board explosion does happen but rarely when facing down Wraths. Answer cards want to be reliable, this often means the more interesting cards like this sit on the side lines while dull old Day of Vengeance retain their slots. On average the cards are likely comparable but consistency is king and so this is unlikely to make waves in cube. Multiplayer formats however this looks very tasty. 

Startle 2

This is a lot of card with two subtle drawbacks that keep it rooted in the fair camp. Firstly the token is decayed and so offers pretty minimal value. Blue either wants a blocker or a threat, a one off two damage dork adds little to most blue strategies. A 1/1 that could block would be a lot better, a 0/2 might also still be better. The other drawback this card has is needing a target. No dorks in play means no token nor a card for you. It is going to be hard work turning this into a combat trick too meaning this is probably 2 life, perhaps 2 loyalty at best. I like this card but can't see ever playing it. Give me a Repulse over this. Give me the Hard Evidence. Perhaps even give me a Fleeting Distraction! 

Old Stickfingers 2

As a dork this sucks quite a lot but as a means to Buried Alive I am more interested. In decks with limited dork counts this will just get the things you want in the bin for a fairly low cost. Not quick enough to be an Entomb replacement but there are other combos and synergies that want you to put dorks in the bin. How many of those that also want to have a low dork count however is another matter. This might be narrow and somewhat low powered but it is unique and can be used as a tutor which always ups the value of cards. 

Necrosynthesis 1

Cool card but unplayable thanks to all the bounce and exile removal rife in cube. This is quite a slow paced return of card and so doesn't really appeal in the aura decks that do exist. It seems like more of an aristocrats card but in such place the payoff is too little. 

Rootcoil Creeper 3

As far two drop mana dorks go this is very potent. It is a 2/2, it fixes any colour, it can double ramp on bin things (which is plenty in cube), and it can cash in for a card in the late game if you have one. While these are all good things this is just overly narrow being a gold card. Gold cards are not best suited to being core support cards, especially ramp ones. There are times this will be a premium ramper but for a drafting cube you just want the more playable and more reliable cards like Paradise Druid. 

Dire-Strain Rampage 3

What an odd card this is. Is it a Harrow? Is it a Cleansing Wildfire? Is it some kind of Beast Within? Against decks without basic lands this is a pretty brutal land destruction spell thanks to the flashback. Beyond that I am not too impressed with the card. While it does loads of things none of them are done very well to the point that I don't want this in my deck. 

Adeline, Splendid Cathar 4

I compare a lot of cards to Brimaz and this one is the closest so far. In 1v1 play this is going to be a little better than Brimaz on the attack in an aggressive deck. On the back foot when blocking and having fewer dorks Adeline could simply be an unimpressive 1/4 which is a long way from good. Much as Brimaz was amazing he is getting a little old and tired these days. His saving grace is that he is actually fairly strong in all kinds of deck thanks to his decent defensive abilities even if the most common and obvious place for him is the aggressive decks. Adeline might be better offensively but being near unplayable outside of the aggressive decks makes her far too narrow for cube given her power level. 

Siphon Insight 7

Think Twice meets Sleight of Hand and then meets Gonti! Siphon Insight is a lot of card. It is disruptive, it provides information, it provides loads of options, it provides value. The only thing it doesn't do is tempo but given how cheap and convenient it is I am OK with that. Power wise this is comfortably cube worthy. It is a gold support card which is something I am wary of. It is also an effect people do not enjoy having used on them which is noteworthy when it comes to cube design. This is good but it will need to be Expressive Iteration levels of good in testing to lock in a cube slot. Cards like this are just a bit too easy to cut and cubes are always in need of cutting these days thanks to endless releasing of really good cards. 

Ambitious Farmhand // Seasoned Cathar 8

This was good enough just on the frontside. White is always after cheap value dorks to abuse with Flicker effects. This will see play in control, midrange, and even aggro decks in cube. In the former cases it is somewhat self explanatory with 2 mana draw a card dorks being a bit of a cube staple for setting up, defending walkers, and curtailing aggression. In aggressive decks this will do good work just by being a body that gets buffs, contributes to attack numbers, and that can hold equipment. The Cathar flipside turns a solid playable support card into a great one. The cost to flip is reasonable although the more the lifelink matters the harder coven will tend to be for you. Even so, it means a card that for you is disposable and has already done enough work to merit playing remains a problem your opponents must consider. 

Hostile Hostel // Creeping Inn 3

My main gripe with this card is the unclear wording on the Inn side. Is X the total number exiled and thus gets bigger or is it just always 1? I presume the former but then why are there no counters for tracking it? This seems all a bit flavour driven design wise and as such is a bit of a mess mechanically. As a threat it is slow as well as rather needy in support tools. As a sac outlet it costs too much and is too limited. The card isn't awful, it is a land at worst after all. There is just no place or role I can envisage using this in. For every idea I have I can quickly think of several other lands that would be better. I expect this to perform better than I rate it (they tend to push mythics a bit and this looks like it could be better so the fact that it isn't is suspicious) but even so that will not get it to where it would need to be for cube play. 

Bloodthirsty Adversary 7

This is basically a Goblin Dark-Dwellers a bit tweaked. Five mana is very much the sweet spot for this with two being underwhelming and eight being a long way off. Is a 3/3 haste better than a 4/4 menace? It is pretty close. How much extra value is there in the various other modes on Adversary then? The logic being that Dark Dwellers are a bit clunky and narrow for most cubes and so to stand a chance this needs to better it significantly in some area. The alternate casting modes add a reasonable amount, well, the two mana one does at least. More than you might expect. So often it will allow things like lethal attacks and turning on things like Hazoret. Just being able to play what is essentially a five drop instead of doing nothing when mana screwed is a big deal as well. In practice I think this will play out quite a lot like a really limp Fury. It has a chance in cube but it isn't going to be a big deal or anything. Just a fair and flexible card that does the sort of thing you want to be doing.