Thursday, 9 October 2014
This card looked dull and over powered so I was in no rush to get one however one has found its way into my hands and so I have felt obliged to put it in the cube and at least try it out. Thus far I have not been too offended by the card. While it is clearly one of the best three drops you can make there are lots of reasons it is not too good for the cube. Goblin Rabblemaster has been outperforming the True-Name Nemesis which I guess speaks more for the quality of Rabblemaster rather than the reasonable power level of True-Name.
The reason I disliked True-Name so much when it was first spoiled is that it seemed far too powerful in a heads up format while offering very little in terms of skill tests. Certainly it is powerful, a 3 power unblockable, near unkillable 3 drop is a fine clock or a pretty serious wall if you need it to be. This is however all it really ever is. Unless you have a merfolk tribal theme in your cube the only synergy you can really get with True-Name is combining him with equipment. True-Name cannot just win games on his own, a single blocker doesn't do much to stop a swarm of weenies or a couple of fatties and alone it's clock gives too much time to your opponent. It doesn't even add much to a race, most other 3 drop tempo dorks offer more damage, quicker damage, or at least added utility. It has been called the blue Sulfuric Vortex and while True-Name is more damage after 3 turns, harder to kill and no self harm involved, the Vortex's ability to prevent life gain is a large part of the strength of the card and entirely missing from True-Name. Vortex is also quicker to apply damage and has good synergy with red cards in general making it a far more purposeful card.
As it is double blue you cannot easily splash it in things like zoo where it would be a potent threat and so for the most part it has found homes in heavier blue decks that cannot apply enough pressure to exploit the aggressive side of the card. When you do some soft of agro creature based deck in UX True-Name is better but leaves you fairly vulnerable to sweepers. Despite being in the category of hard to kill threats it does not offer the same resiliance to sweepers as the more humble persist and undying monsters or the terrifying Voice of Resurgence! By not covering an area of weakness in such decks you rather miss out on getting the full use of its abilities. Spot removal will just hit other things and save a comparable amount of damage and sweepers will still be just as ruinous. When going agro dorks True-Name feels much more like a 3/1 unblockable than a mini Progenitus.
Finally in control True-Name has found a happy role of protecting planeswalkers but it is still arguably less good than a Wall of Omens or Sea Gate Oracle. You still have to tap in your turn to make it and you still kill it with your own sweepers. It can double up as a cheap finisher but even things like the old school Psychatog get it done a lot faster. Both trample and flying make True-Name a fairly useless defender and even for a control deck a 7 turn clock does not really constitute a finisher, most planeswalkers can take the game in that amount of time and will have yielded far more value in the process.
Don't get me wrong, True-Name is still a very powerful and very tedious card. It reminds me of Jitte, fairly easy to outplay it but a slow and painful game over when you can't. Jitte is a higher pick as it is easier to play and offers far more utility. I rate True-Name 5th-10th best blue card in an unpowered cube. Highly powerful but hard to use to its full potential within the cube. The other top blue cards all do a lot of work to increase the power of the other cards in your deck, True-Name does this far less. The best home I have found for True-Name thus far is an UW cawblade style deck using few powerful creatures, Stoneforge and equipment and finished off with control stuff. You never have to overcommit to the board and have sufficient tempo and control to be able to be attacking.