Friday, 15 October 2021

Stompy (mono green aggro) has finally arrived!

 

In all my long years cubing I have never been able to get an aggressive green deck to be viable. It simply had nothing over the red or white aggressive builds that come with the removal that green sorely lacks. Ramp, what green gets instead of removal, is all well and good but it tended to just exacerbate your other pre existing weaknesses. Curving with ramp, while powerful, is harder to do than conventional curving as you need more things to line up for you. It also makes you more vulnerable to removal and to drawing dead cards in the mid and late game. Historically the best aggro green builds have been those that just go with threats from the outset and forgo mana elves. Or indeed just being an elf deck and becoming more combo than aggro, but at least good! Not playing one mana ramp is forgoing green's greatest strength for no real advantage over other colours. 




So what has changed? Why is green now packing aggro decks that are top tier? It is the result of a culmination of multiple factors over a few years. Things began to pickup for green around Kaladesh and has recently hit a threshold of cards and effects that has made aggro green a consistently top tier build in my cube. 

Not only has the card pool and range of what cards do increased over time but the meta also evolves. A big factor in aggro green improving is that tempo has become more important over the years. With tempo being more valuable the benefits of ramp have increased. This is paired up really nicely with the ability for green decks to obtain card advantage in a wide array of places, usually at little to no tempo cost. It means that you can easy avoid the pitfalls of playing ramp with card advantage tools and still reap the huge tempo perks. Indeed this ability to pair ramp along with high tempo card advantage has given aggro green a very serious play style that is essentially just brute forcing a win. A lot of powerful green cards provide a mana boost even as you go higher up the curve from a selection of planeswalkers to cards like Primeval Titan, Old-Growth Troll, and the Great Henge. Plenty of other green cards are also helping you to make land drops rather more consistently than other aggressive lists too, be they finding you lands or letting you play them off the top. All told, green winds up with a good amount of mana that tends to continue growing as the game goes long. Paired with good card advantage and things can spiral in some pretty extreme ways. You can face some pretty scary things and instead of dealing with them you can just totally overwhelm them by playing two or three times as much stuff as your opponent every turn. This is typically a means of reach and is something green very much has over white aggro decks. I have come close to decking myself like this on numerous occasions! 




It is not just card advantage helping out here but also card quality. Green has the best non-blue card quality effects in Oath of Nissa, Once Upon a Time and Abundant Harvest, not to mention looting from Smuggler's Copter. As card quality effects are generally a tempo cost they are not something aggro decks are looking to pack much of. They do however make for exceptional filler in all the possible ways. They sort out curves, they add to your count of playables, they sort out mana ratios. If you have a hole in your deck a card quality spell is there to plug it up. Much as we might look at the big names at the top of the power scale to see why an archetype is getting better it is just as important to look at the bottom end of the power scale too. What is happening when you miss the mark in the draft? The answer is becoming that you suffer less if you are green. There is enough one mana ramp to go round so rather than winding up with little to none and an unplayable deck you will just have some of the less powerful or suitable options in your one mana ramp slots and a deck that remains functional. The existence of good card quality along with decent filler cards like Elvish Visionary,  Llanowar Visionary, good MDFC lands, along with a bunch of generally fine-to-throw-in-most-decks midrange cards like Courser of Kruphix, and you find that green has a very high floor. A good curve with a bunch of random good green cube cards and you tend to have a fairly functional pile. This is part of what makes red so good presently. It just doesn't seem to matter much how you mix your red cards beyond curve, you just wind up with something competitive. Green seems to be catching up to red in that regard.




The next big change is the nature of the threats now available to green. Historically it was mostly just big dumb dorks. Sometimes it was little dumb dorks but whatever it was it was held off comfortably with your standard anti-beatdown plans. Spot and mass removal always seems overly effective against green aggression. The two main ways green threats have evolved is in diversity and immediate effect. Green has more creature lands, more vehicles, more top tier planeswalkers, and more robust and unusual dorks than ever before, and many at high power levels. Lair of the Hydra, Smugglers Copter again, Toski, Nissa Who Shakes the World, Hex Drinker, Old Growth Troll, Esika's Chariot etc. These cards all tax answers while being able to apply good pressure. The quantity and high power level of cards like this has helped push green a lot in recent years.  




The second class of improved threats, the immediate effect ones, comes in two guises - those that kill stuff, and those with haste. Green still isn't great at killing things and doesn't really plan to when going aggro. It aims to simply over power anything it faces with bigger and better threats alongside more cards to play and more mana to ply them with. Even so, removal that doesn't cost you power is worth playing. Voracious Hydra is the best in this regard although some older classics are still a nice support such as Jitte and Garruk Relentless. Walking Ballista is also at it's best in the aggro green with good mana production and often some +1/+1 counter synergies. I have even seen Ugin the Ineffable getting a bunch of play in these aggro green lists. That is another perk of the archetype - being able to hit your land drops and consistently ramp means you are packing five and six drops without any cost where other aggro decks are having to make build adjustments to sensibly include that level of top end. Ideally my red and white aggro decks are not playing any five or six drops at all. 




So, to the big one. Haste dorks. This is the single biggest contributor to the overall improvement of green and it is mostly down to a fairly small number of cards. Haste is just so good at the moment. It gives you a really reliable means to secure some value from your threats, be that applying a lot of damage or planeswalker control. It also forces opponents to play with a much higher degree of respect for what you can do. With no haste dorks at all your opponent can feel really safe with sorcery removal. A Wrath will make them feel immortal! If they can clear or stall the board they can lay walkers with complete confidence and start to lock down the game. Haste is the EtB "value trigger" that aggro decks most want from their dorks as it giving you the outcome directly that you are investing your resources into doing! In essence it is like comparing Cavalier of Gales and Thundermaw Hellkite. Both are five mana 5/5 fliers but one Brainstorms for value on the turn you make it while the other does a Lava Axe! Which is better depends on what you are trying to do. In the case of the aggro green deck haste is the kind of value we like most in our bigger threats. As a direct source of card security and on-theme value, as a means of keeping our opponents in fear of what we can do, and as a means of just beating the crap out of unsuspecting people as quickly as possible! Questing Beast and Vorinclex are two newish powerhouses that have really helped green perform in this area. Both are really scary to face and as an opponent of green you are often just praying they don't have one. Vorinclex isn't only a juicy hasting threat, he is also quite a savage disruption tool that negates a lot of cards. Getting a bit of free disruption on your threats is always nice for the aggro player and not something green has previously had the chance to enjoy beyond some mild graveyard removal stuff. Speaking of which, Froghemoth, while not at the same level as the hasting legends, is still an impressive tool in the aggro green players arsenal. There are a number of land converting walkers that are pseudo-haste threats. Shifting Ceratops, Vengevine and Surrak are also all fine green dorks with haste that support the aggressive strategy nicely. I haven't even been running those final three four drop dorks in my cube lately and aggro green is still performing admirably.




Lastly I would say that green has gained some agency in recent years. Historically playing the archetype was rarely more than a case of curving and turning sideways. Sometimes you had to consider Wraths and sometimes you have to work out the correct attack but it was linear and low option density. Now we have not just card quality but also things like MDFCs, modal cards, Ranger Class, and just a lot more ways to use your cards. A number of good green cards have mana sinks on them as green likes such things. Mana sinks don't just give you an option in the late game when everything else has run out, they also give you options in the midgame too. Options don't have to be more powerful uses of mana to be situationally more powerful things to do. Animating a manland so as to kill of a planeswalker is going to generally be superior to playing something out from your hand for example. Green tends to have more of these low power options and so more often finds itself in a position where using them is the best line even in the midgame. Gaining agency is huge, it makes you far less of a whipping boy to control players and is makes games way more interesting and involved. You feel like you won the game rather than the deck and good RNG winning the game. 




Combat Tricks have gotten better recently too with Snakeskin Veil, Blossoming Defence, Wild Shape, Inscription of Abundance, and Vastwood Fortifications all being new and all being comfortably top ten cube combat tricks. They are cheap, often useful in multiple ways, often as a trick or as protection, or they are useful in an ongoing way such as a lasting buff. Mutagenic Growth remains my top pick combat trick but by far and away the best thing it does is save your mana dorks from getting Shocked it seems. Much as I quite like running a combat trick in my aggro green decks they really don't need them. You certainly don't want loads of them. They are great now and again but often sit about making you wish they were a land or proactive play. The best thing they do is put the fear into your opponent. Combat tricks will reduce the consistency of your deck and are a bit of a high roll card. I will only be playing them when my deck is so well tuned that I can afford to run them or such a train wreck that I need more playables and/or that ability to get lucky and have more than my fair share of high roll moments. 




You will note I have talked a bunch about Smugglers Copter, Umezawa's Jitte and Walking Ballista a fair degree in this article. These are all quite high pick cards in draft as they are pretty powerful, pretty playable, and let you remain more open. These are certainly some of the mostly highly picked cards early in a draft. They all not only go in aggro green decks but are also basically at their best in that archetype as well. These cards not only make the archetype better for one reason or another, they also push you in that direction somewhat and result in it getting more play. Each of these cards fires on multiple positive synergies for mono green. Ballista and Jitte both give removal options. Copter and Jitte both put small chaffy dorks to good use. Ballisa and Jitte to some degree are good mana sinks. Copter lets you access the world of fliers. Ballista loves a +1/+1 counter effect etc etc. This general suitability for a lot of the colourless cards  has allowed for aggro green to be a solid home for Urza's Saga and Karn Scion of Urza. In my very last cube I got battered by Esika's Chariot copying construct tokens. While not the easiest to piece together a construct build is certainly impressively powerful. There is a lot more subtle support for such things kicking around than you might expect. A simple Tireless Tracker can turn your constructs into monsters! 




In a similar vein to working well with colourless stuff green is also the best colour to splash with. It has the best fixing in every aspect and can make a splash work easily most of the time. You don't need to splash and probably don't want to unless the colour pair is open and you are tabling all the fixing and gold cards. Or you train wreck and need the help! It does however give you access to more picks as well as powerful and complementary cards. Grist has become a pretty common splash. Kessig-Wolf Run historically is the most common thing for green decks to splash for. Removal effects, powerful gold cards, and un-green like dorks, typically fliers like Emissary of Grudges, Restoration Angel, and Hydriod Krasis are the sorts of thing you see getting incorporated into aggressive green decks. 




Here is a quick and no frills example list of how you might build this deck. Loads of the parts are interchangeable and there are plenty of worthy inclusions that I didn't have room to showcase in this list or the following one. The bombs you really want in the archetype are Questing Beast and Esika's Chariot. Beyond that it is about getting the right curve and ratios more than it is about specific cards. You can do without specific things, no card is key to the archetype. You do want some one mana ramp but it isn't critical which. Even the likes of the Great Henge is pretty much a luxury card, a bit on the win more side. It is one of the few things on this list you could cut and replace with a card baring no curve or function similarity. You might also note that were are able to get rather more utility in our mana base than other archetypes. This is thanks to our reasonable ability to have lands and mana. The higher curve likes access to a healthy land count and the expected extra card draw allows for a bit more spice within those lands. 





23(25) Spells


Llanowar Elf

Elvish Mystic

Fyndhorn Elves

Arbor Elves

Hex Drinker

Abundant Harvest 


Smuggler's Copter

Walking Ballista

Ranger Class

Werewolf Pack Leader

Tangled Florahedron


Briarbridge Tracker

Old-Growth Troll

Kazandu Mammoth

Lovestruck Beast


Questing Beast

Esika's Chariot

Garruk Relentless

Toski, Bearer of Secrets 


Froghemoth

Nissa, Who Shakes the World

Creeperhulk


Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider


The Great Henge

Voracious Hydra


15 (17) Lands


Lair of the Hydra

Treetop Village

Wasteland 

12 Forests



And here is a quick example list of the Saga green deck that smashed everyone up in my last draft;



23 (24) Spells


Skullclamp

Shadowspear

Retrofitter Foundry

Joraga Treespeaker

Boreal Druid

Gilded Goose

Elvish Mystic

Snakeskin Veil


Once Upon a Time

Walking Balista 

Scavenging Ooze

Elvish Visionary


Briarbridge Tracker

Tireless Tracker

Bala Ged Recovery

Jadelight Ranger

Augur of Autumn


Karn, Scion of Urza

Esika's Chariot

Questing Beast


Paradox Zone

Verdurous Gearhulk


Tovolar's Huntmaster 

The Immortal Sun


16 (17) Lands


Urza's Saga

Mishra's Factory

Lair of the Hydra

13 Forests





Sunday, 26 September 2021

Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Conclusions and Additions

 


I like this set. It had a good all round feel. The power was on point and there are lots of interesting and viable cards without being too extreme on the power creep or having any obviously oppressive cards. Between the two Modern Horizons sets the power creep and number of bomb format warping cards released was all a bit too extreme. This level where we find Innistrad is where I want to see it. I really really like the printing of some nice rounded cheap support cards. I might have mentioned but Consider is the card I am most pleased to see pretty much as long as I have been doing this blog! This over shadows some of the other cards I am also really excited to have such as the scry Shock and Unsummon, Otherworldly Gaze, and some other interesting, useful and playable one drops. This might be the most one drops added to the cube from any new set which is a record I am most happy about. 




Set flavour was solid and on point as well. I obviously love the basic lands and it would seem as if the community does in general too if the popularity on Card Market is anything to go by! There seems to be a lot of power creep down dead ends which is probably the best place for it. Cards with loads going on, cards to which the sum of the parts add up to very impressive returns, but that are really hard to unlock. That tended to mean that the most powerful cards are not all that exciting for cube where you are looking for more readily accessible and broadly rounded powerful cards. On the flip side there are a lot of modal and flexible cards that are quite well pushed and these are pretty spot on for cube. 


*cards from the commander product


Cards Going in the Cube


Ambitious Farmhand // Seasoned Cathar

Suspicious Stowaway // Seafaring Werewolf

Moonveil Regent

Briarbridge Tracker

Gorex, the Tombshell*

Augur of Autumn

Intrepid Adversary

Tovolar's Huntmaster // Packleader

Falkenrath Pit Fighter

Fateful Absence

Play with Fire

Consider

Burn Down the House





Cards to test with some reasonable expectation


Rite of Oblivion

Lier, Disciple of the Drowned

Search Party Captain

Cathar Commando

Outland Liberator // Frenzied Trapbreaker

Reckless Stormseeker // Storm-Charged Slasher

Siphon Insight

Smouldering Egg

Cathatic Pyre

The Meathook Massacre

Fading Hope

Bloodthirsty Adversary

Memory Deluge 

Spectral Adversary

Jadar, Ghoulcaller of Nephalia

Light up the Night

Infernal Grasp

Poppet Stitcher





Cards to test with minimal expectation


Teferi, Who Slows the Sunset

Morbid Opportunist

Jerren, Corrupted Bishop // Ormendahl, the Corrupter

Vengeful Strangler // Strangling Grasp

Slaughter Specialist

Malevolent Hermit // Benevolent Geist

Tainted Adversary

Flame Channeler // Embodiment of Flame

Overwhelmed Archivist // Archive Haunt

Vanquish the Horde

Brutal Cathar // Moonrage Brute

Arlinn, the Pack's Hope / The Moon's Fury

Sunset Revelry

Graveyard Trespasser // Glutton

Bloodline Culling

Curse of Silence

Otherworldly Gaze

Raze the Effigy

Ghoulish Procession

Sigardian Zealot*

Foul Play

Gisa, Glorious Resurrector

Storm the Festival

Rotten Ruination 






Some notable cards for the rotisserie/constructed reserves


Jack-o'-Lantern

Sigarda's Splendor

Champion of the Perished

Faithful Mending

Tovolar, Dire Overlord / the Midnight Scourge

Turn the Earth

Rite of Harmony

Wrenn and Seven

Festival Crasher

Florian, Voldaren Scion

Galvanic Iteration

Patrician Geist

Tapping at the Window

Lunarch Veteran // Luminous Phantom

Friday, 24 September 2021

Preliminary Review Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Commander Part 2

 


Kyler, Sigardian Emissary 0

A five mana 2/2 gold lord that doesn't start buffing until I make more humans?!? So You want me to pay five, keep this dick alive, and then make more humans so as to buff my other humans? This is either terrible or supreme overkill with very little ground in between those two extremes. This is not the kind of tribal payoff I am looking for in 1v1 play. 





Shadowkin 3

Flash helps this be viable but unless you have big things to copy yourself this isn't impressive. At that point you are likely better off playing more traditional reanimator cards. This exiles the things it clones thus stopping them working with other cards and thus making it an awkward card to include supplementing another combo. It is also something you have to luck out with or setup on the library, you cannot just put the thing you want cloned into the bin. This card is very awkward to play with but it is still a card that can be a 4 mana Griselbrand with flash which is not to be sniffed at. It is also awkward in that it doesn't work with EtB effects which makes it rather less appealing with a variety of the better fatties. Griselbrand is likely the best of the available options. 





Drown in Dreams 2

Stroke of Genius hasn't seen play in a long long time but this is better even without commanders. An OK big or infinite mana win condition that has some mild alternate utility. 






Prowling Geistcatcher 0

Too much anti-synergy with other effects you might want to pair with this. Also too little immediate impact and too slow as far as payoff return.





Curse of Unbinding 2

Super Bribery. This will mill out control, crush midrange in value, and if you are lucky, curtail the aggression of aggro. You can use it as an Oath of Druids to get out your own mega fatties or just rely on what your opponent has. The only issues with this Curse are the seven mana cost. Any way you can suitably ramp or cheat this out make it interesting but for normal use it is too costly. You get your dork sooner if used on the opponent as well as getting the mill threat as well. This has suitable threat for a top end card but it lacks the immediate impact and consistency to see play outside of Show and Tell / Replenish / Academy Rector style combos.





Curse of the Restless Dead 1

Decayed tokens on landfall are not quite exciting enough for me to want to pay three mana. At two perhaps. If they were not decayed, again, perhaps. Against a mega landfall deck this is OK but it isn't really close to the power of what they will be doing. 





Tomb Tyrant 1

Another zombie lord/payoff that is all too much of a Hill Giant. This isn't needed in 40 card decks with plenty of better zombie lords from 2 to 4 mana. 





Ravenous Rotbelly 1

I would perhaps play this in a zombie bidding deck if I wasn't setting up that deck to instant one shot my opponent. It is a bit top heavy, unreliable, and needy as far as general removal goes and so shouldn't see much tribal play. More than Tomb Tyrant at least...





Hordewing Skaab 0

The gift of flight is cool but probably a bit too expensive. The body and the looting are rather less impressive at this cost. Not sure I would play this anywhere.





Ghoul's Night Out 0

Far too low return in 1v1 play, not to mention unreliable. 





Empty the Laboratory 1

You can cheat with this and find exclusively fat zombies by only having cheap things that make zombie tokens. Likely a bit under supported compared to similar strategies you could do in singleton but a pretty powerful use for the card. In more general cases this is a great way to cash in decayed tokens but it is overly conditional and luxury for my liking. I don't want a card I can't use when I am behind. 





Croweded Crypt 2

A cool mana rock with some reasonable late game utility but it is just a bit slow compared to two drop mana rocks at doing the main thing you want it for. 





Cleaver Skaab 0

Slow, expensive, and not even all that exciting or powerful. 





Eliose, Nephalia Sleuth 1

Nice value but all a bit slow, vulnerable, and lacking in threat. 





Gorex, the Tombshell 8

This seems to be the best card from the commander set for cubes. It reminds me of Ethereal Forager but obviously for dorks. You need some dorks in the bin which is a bit harder to do than spells but you need fewer. At two mana this is very naughty and at 4 it is fine. It will even be acceptable at six mana from time to time. It is a whole lot safer than Ethereal Forager as you get back a thing when it dies as well as attacks. It is also bigger which helps. Gorex is simultaneously value and tempo making him almost an automatic win. I'll play this in any deck which has a sufficient creature count. Self mill and discard will really help empower this which is nice as black does OK on those things generally in cube. There is some mild narrowness to this card but that is pretty comfortably overcome by the power levels. I will play this in basically all aggro and midrange lists with enough black to support a BB card. It isn't quite as good as Ethereal Forager but that is more down to the fact that getting things back like Time Warp and Force of Will is far more oppressive than dorks are. 




Preliminary Review Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Commander Part 1

 


Lynde, Cheerful Tormentor 0

Risky ability, unreasonably slow, turdy body, and narrow as they come. Even in a curse deck in 1v1 40 card singleton this is not getting it done. Cool EDH card but pretty exclusively and EDH card. 





Curse of Obsession 2

Mostly this is a tool you use on yourself to draw 2 extra cards a turn with. Sometimes you can disrupt slower control decks and even mill them out with this too. Cool card with nearly enough power but just edged out by things like Experimental Frenzy and Harnfel, Horn of Plenty, and even Outpost Siege. These cards are all safer, more efficient, and/or more flexible. This all likely means you can only play this in a curse deck. 





Willhelt, the Rotcleaver 2

This is a very powerful zombie tribal payoff. It provides board security and card advantage. Sadly it is a Hill Giant itself without protection or assured value. Wilhelt will do a lot of dying and costing you tempo. Tribal decks also want to be pushing home a victory with 4 drops rather than grinding out a longer game. A fine card that will be good in the right places but likely won't be as good as he looks.





Leinore, Autumn Sovereign 2

With this being a beginning of combat effect it is nearly good enough as you can draw right away. Can is the problem, without the coven precondition or perhaps just from not being gold this would have a chance but as it is it is all a bit slow and risky. 




Celestial Judgement 1

The potential to be very one sided indeed! A good mass removal tool for a big old board stall where this should obliterate your opponent and leave you in very good shape. The sort of things a Cyclonic Rift or Winds of Abandon does without being a dead card and a six drop the times it isn't able to win the game. At a lower cost I would at least test this but at six it is far too narrow and unreliable. 





Curse of Conformity 1

Some flexibility in buffing up your 1/1 tokens or nerfing your opponent's fatties. In practice you will both have dorks this hurts and helps and likely it does far too little for the five mana tag. Not sure where or why you would play this. 





Moorland Rescuer 1

Just too expensive to use as a value tool or any sort of combo piece. And without any other discernible uses this seems unplayable in cube. 





Sigarda's Vanguard 2

Powerful card with lots of threat and some immediate impact. A bit high up the curve for who might want her, needy of a developed position, and too light on the toughness to really impress but not too far off the mark. 






Wall of Mourning 0

The worlds slowest and least reliable Wall of Omens. Needing this to live until I get coven and then till the end of the turn before I get my card is a no go. Omens is about convenience and this isn't that. I am not anticipating coven in my control decks. When this can draw me multiple cards then I am interested but that isn't in 1v1 play. 





Celebrate the Harvest 0

Nice ceiling but too slow and far too conditional for what you want in a ramp card in heads up play. 





Curse of Clinging Webs 3

This would be good enough it if didn't exile your dorks if placed on yourself. Stuff in the bin is simply too valuable of a resource in magic these days to be just cashing them in for 1/2 spiders. I am not saying a 1/2 spider with reach isn't better than a random creature in the bin, it absolutely is. It is just that it is absolutely worse for some specific dorks and cards while also not being enough better on average to merit a 3 mana and a card of investment. Used on your opponent the exile is great disruption but then you lose control over the effectiveness of the card as it relies on your opponent having lots of dorks and that you can make them die. Overall this is just a bit too narrow in how and where you can play it. It has the potential to be amazing both on you and on them but sadly not often enough. 





Heronblade Elite 3

A human version of Marwyn. Elves is a bit more mana explosion and dump while humans is a bit more traditional beats in how they play. I am not sure if humans wants the Elite but it does give them some good options and directions they can explore as a tribe. A narrow card but interesting potential and decent power level.





Ruinous Intrusion 0

Too expensive and conditional for a removal spell that is itself overly narrow in range. 





Sigardian Zealot 5

This guy is a bit of a beast. He gives a bunch of your dorks +3/+3 and vigilance every attack. Trample would make this a bomb but it might well get there as it is. You can scale him up easily and should be able to average over 2 dorks buffed the turn he enters play fairly easily. I imagine this dork will kill very quickly, sometimes right away and often the turn after. Being a bit limp by himself and on the fragile side are slight turn offs. Creeperhulk is the card I compare this to and I come down in favour of the Hulk. It threatens more and is better by itself even if it is more mana intense. Test worthy but I think just pricy and conditional enough to be pipped by the likes of Creeper and Gearhulks. 





Somberwalk Beastmaster 2

Mostly this will be used as a great target to cheat out loads of juice with things that fire based on power such a Rievelark. As a seven drop it is a bit vanilla, it has plenty of stats and bodies but they don't excite or threaten as much as I want from a seven drop, especially now green has a Grave Titan that can produce the same number of stats for a mana less. 





Kurbis, Harvest Celebrant 1

While not lacking in power I am not sure this is all that playable. Due to target restrictions you can really only play this in a counters themed deck and in those you are trying to do broken things not a bit of damage protection here and there. Your dorks should be big enough for damage not to matter that much! 




Thursday, 23 September 2021

Preliminary Review Innistrad: Midnight Hunt Part XV

 


Electric Revelation 5

Too slow for most non-combo cubes but a card with a lot of combo and constructed potential. Cost reducers, Birgi, Steamkin, Fork effects, other discard effects, the list of red things that go well with this is long. It can be used as filler and support in so many of the cool red decks. This is a discard outlet with card quality than can be discarded for value and ultimately winds up giving card advantage if you cast it from the bin. I look forward to casting lots of this. 





Ardent Elementalist 2

This is nearly good enough! Budget and down powered and budget cubes should look into this guy. 





Rotten Reunion 6

The magic words "up to" on this makes it pretty interesting. You don't need a target and so you can just curve with it. It is a Chatter the Squirrel for decayed zombies with some mild yard disruption tagged on as well. This is a lot of bodies for little cost which makes it pretty useful in a number of settings from tribal ones through to aristocrat builds. It is a card that is nice to mill over or discard. I suspect it is a little bit low impact and narrow to survive in the cutthroat world of cube but this simple little card has a lot of game. For reference I think a decayed 2/2 zombie is a bit worse than a 1/1 squirrel token however the former scale much better with more stuff and the disruptive component, while minor, still adds quite a lot to this card. Black also is far more interested in chump tokens than green.





Novice Occultist 1

This is super weak, I want my card draw immediately and I have many better cards that will do that for me. This needed to be a 2/1 or better to interest. 





Crawl from the Cellar 1

Flashback gives this card some mild potential in combo decks but at 4 mana I doubt it leaving it with no likely homes. 





Blood Pact 3

A little bit slow and underpowered for cube but a strong card for standard. Instant helps this card out a lot. 





Unblinking Observer 1

So far the blue mana dorks have just not offered what is desired when compared to mana rocks. The more aggressive stat line (compared to the 1/1 or 1/3 we usually get) on this offering doesn't seem to further it's cause in any way. 





Shipwreck Sifters 1

Mild niche tribal potential. Lack of flying makes this a bit of an oddball spirit as far as the tribe goes. Mostly it needs to be a spirits build with a discard theme.





Otherworldly Gaze 7

This card packs a lot of punch. It reminds me a bit of Faithless Looting, lots of card quality, affordable flashback, and great synergy setup tool. The card disadvantage is a problem and likely rules it out for most general cube uses but as soon as you start to move towards constructed formats and focus on synergies this card rather excites. I do intend to test this as I really want to setup my escape and delve spells. This is a lot of card despite not directly doing all that much. 





Geistwave 5

A nice clean rounded bounce spell that you can use for value saving on of your dorks or reusing the EtB effect. Very playable but lacking the potential of Cyclonic Rift or the power and value of Brazen Borrower. There is a chance that Into the Roil is better than this for cube too as you do mostly want to bounce their stuff.





Falcon Abomination 0

This is hardly great but it isn't unplayable. Two zombies in one card! Joking aside, this would have been able to get some tribal play not so many years ago.





Search Party Captain 7.5

This might be on the narrow side but it is an absolute bomb of a card for white weenie and a pretty fine card for white in general. White has all the flicker but until recently not nearly enough of the targets. A pile of good ones now threaten to allow white card draw! At three mana this card is fine, at two it is great, and at one it is a joke, even late in the game a one mana cycle that leaves a 2/2 body is still bonkers good. I suspect the average price paid for this will be a little over two mana but that isn't the whole story as decks expecting to pay a little over three likely won't play it. Priest of Ancient Law has been impressing in cube so far but it has seen most play in midrange and control settings. Search Party Captain is a more powerful card but it might see play in slightly fewer places. 





Cathar Commando 7

This is very interesting indeed. Flash is nice and unexpected. It lets you play this reactively or proactively as required in both aggressive and controlling settings. It also does a good job or mitigating the low toughness. As does a great sac ability for that matter! In aggressive decks this is lovely as you can flop it out with any spare mana without losing access to the removal and beat pretty hard with it. In a control deck you can hold it up as you need and not expose yourself to risk while having the capacity to control the board. This card isn't super powerful but it is highly flexible. I am happy to pay an extra mana on my Disenchant so that it can get involved in combat and not be a dead card. The thing this has to compete with is Leonin Relic Warder and frankly that card sucks all the balls. WW makes it narrow and having an impermanent removal effect on the EtB makes it both awkward and unreliable. I'll keep my Disenchant over the crappy cat. 





Lunarch Veteran 6

Still not good enough to play as a stand alone but the various lifegain game plan cards are rapidly growing in number. Soul sisters lists have a few different build directions they can go in and all are getting real tight on space. This is a lot of card and offers a pile of great synergies. I wouldn't be shocked at all if at some point soon a lot of cubes start running soul sister type synergies instead of more traditional aggressive plans thanks to the increased power they seem to be getting on top of it just being a bit more interesting and flavourful. Kind of like how black has aristocrat synergies in place of straight aggressive ones in a lot of cubes.