Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Early Review Troubles

I have never really had a need of quickly assessing cards until this blog. Previously I would just throw all the interesting cards into the cube and wait until testing and experience reveal the truth about the cards. Any card I missed would be hyped by the magic community and turn up in various constructed decks and so I could easily place those in the cube as well despite being off my radar. I find it quite interesting to look over my initial thoughts about cards to see how and why I was wrong. Being right is nice but it doesn't teach you as much. Conveniently I put a top 5 cube cards (or more) for each review which I have collated in this post and placed it next to how I would rate the top 5 cards from the set now after having played with them a reasonable amount.

If I am honest I thought early reviews would be pretty easy, I can remember reading LSVs various set reviews and chuckling to myself about the odd card he got wrong that I thought was obvious. While I have gotten a fair bit better at assessing cards quickly over the last year I am still far less consistent than the likes of the afor mentioned LSV rather unsurprisingly. The one aspect of Magic this highlights more than anything else is the value of teamwork, discussion and cooperation. I would put money on the most accurate ratings being an average of the ratings given by many individuals. Skill level is of course important but not the primary factor, I would also put money on the ratings given by one top level pro being less accurate than the amalgamated ratings of ten people with 1800ish rankings. Never rule out someones opinion because you are the better Magic player and avoid going with your own opinions without working them through with others. As I found with most of Magic, what applies to it also applies to the rest of life and the value of sharing and blending opinions is no exception to this.

Any how, it turns out making solo quick judgements on cards is really hard. I have started discussing the interesting ones with as many people to hand as possible which helps. Knowing your strengths, weaknesses and bias is a great aid in being able to compensate. I am far better at spotting the cheap cards that are clearly cube worthy but I suspect that is the case for most people. Cheaper cards have less scope and see more play so there is more available comparisons within better defined ranges. As cards go up in cost I really struggle to place them and often disregard them for their price despite their power. I am biased against cards that seem somewhat cross purposes and overly fond of cheap versatile cards even if they are very low power level. An example of an expensive, seemingly cross purpose yet very powerful card I initially disregarded was Consecrated Sphinx. For six mana I wanted to either have an awesome game winning threat or much more reliable and powerful card draw. It was not until playing it I realised quite how powerful it was and was able to see past the clumsy and costly aspects of the card. I was able to spot Thundermaw Hellkite more easily as it is comparable to Rorix and Baneslayer Angel who have both spent much time in the cube but without these kinds of reference card I still struggle.

One of the main objectives with this blog was to review each cube card which I started off by taking the cube as it was at that moment in time and in one go reviewing each card. This was OK for cards that had been in the cube for a long time however there were many cards from Innistrad and even a few from the previous Mirrodin block that I was not fully familiar with and in hindsight got nearly as wrong as some of the cards on my initial set reviews. Going over old bits with a years hindsight it is clear that those reviews not purporting to be "initial" need going over and touching up which is quite a project and hopefully something I can get done soon.

Although not something I intended to do at the beginning I quite enjoy the initial set reviews and will continue to do them despite usually missing a couple of big names and overrated lots of janky junk. If I continue to improve at the rate I have been over the last year they should be pretty good in a few more however I would still always recommend reading around, chatting with your mates and critically analysing your own opinions before accepting any one source as gospel.

Finally for your amusement at what crud I thought would be good at the gems I totally missed here is the various top 5 lists from the early reviews. The sets from RtR block have not yet had quite as much testing as I would like for a reasonable assessment and so the top five for now is still probably a little off. They are at least the best cards from each set and therefore the ones seeing most play and thus needing least time to become familiar with. Avecyn Restored was the set I was most wrong on for which I put a lot down to a complete misjudgement of the miracle mechanic. I thought all the cheaper spells would be good with the top end ones like Bonfire and Terminus being too unreliable and expensive. It turned out you want your cheap spells reliable and your game winners to be totally unfair which is why miracle suits the big cards far better than the little ones. It is not worth setting up for a turn to miracle cast a Vanishment however it very much is worth it to cast a Bonfire of the Damned.

Dark Ascension


5. Faithless Looting
4. Strangleroot Geist
3. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
2. Thalia, Guardian of Threben
1. Gravecrawler


5. Thalia, Gaurdian of Threben
4. Strangleroot Geist
3 Gravecrawler
2. Lingering Souls
1. Faithless Looting

Avecyn Restored


5. Gloom Surgeon
4. Pillar of Flame
3. Timayo, the Moonsage
2. Vexing Devil
1. Temporal Mastery


5. Timayo, the Moonsage
4. Temporal Mastery
3. Restoration Angel
2. Terminus
1. Bonfire of the Damned



5. Augur of Bolas  
4. Ajani, Caller of the Pride   
3. War Falcon    
2. Thundermaw Hellkite     
1. Searing Spear


5. Augur of Bolas
4. Searing Spear
3. Thragtusk
2. Sublime Archangel
1. Thundermaw Hellkite

Return to Ravnica


1. Deathrite Shaman    
2. Dreadbore       
3. Lotleth Troll       
4. Abrupt Decay              
5. Rakdos Cackler


1. Deathrite Shaman
2. Dreadbore
3. Abrupt Decay
4. Mizzium Mortars
5. Rakdos Charm



5.   Boros Charm
4.   Dimir Charm
3.   Frontline Medic
2.   Skullcrack
1.   Cloudfin Raptor


5. Aurelia's Fury
4. Dimir Charm
3. Skullcrack
2. Merciless Eviction
1. Cloudfin Raptor

1 comment:

  1. I'm very surprised that Ghor-Clan Rampager is not on your list. I would put it number two on there personally.