Monday, 26 September 2016

Learning about the lands deck

Maze of Ith

Recently I played this deck list in an 8 man event. While I have been on the receiving end of this deck numerous times I have never actually got round to doing one myself. I heavily underestimated how hard it was to play, to my detriment. I threw games with poor Bazaar of Baghdad and Maze of Ith timings which is frankly a little embarrassing! I also threw more games simply by miss-building the deck which is far more unlike me. While there was a points restriction on cards in the event that I played that wasn't anything to do with my miss-build. That was all down to me not having played the deck before and not understanding the kinds of thing it needs. It wasn't even really the spell side of things that let me down so much but my choices on the lands and how they would interact with the spells, many of which are seemingly subtle. It wasn't even the colours that were an issue, I got that bit fairly comfortably. It was simply the blend of utility lands and how I tried to use them. I had too many powerful draw effects and not enough specific utility.
Treasure Hunt

My List

9 spells

Mana Bond

Trade Routes
Life from the Loam
Treasure Hunt

Time Twister 
Seismic Assault 
Wheel of Fortune 

The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale31 Lands

Dust Bowl
Glacial Chasm
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Bazaar of Baghdad
Maze of Ith

Kessig Wolf-Run 
Inkmoth Nexus 

Springjack Pasture
Westvale Abbey 

Mistveil Plains

Forgotten Cave
Lonely Sandbar
Maze's EndTranquil Thicket

Orzhov Guildgate
Dimir  Guildgate
Rakdos  Guildgate
Gruul  Guildgate
Boros  Guildgate
Golgari  Guildgate
Simic  Guildgate
Izzet  Guildgate
Azorius  Guildgate
Selesnya  Guildgate

Maze's End

Cascade Bluffs 
Fire-lit Thicket 
Mossfire Valley
Izzet Boilerworks
Copperline Gorge 
Yavimaya Coast
Crumbling Vestige

GambleI should have played Gamble simply for another Life from the Loam. I likely should also have played Exploration. Making two lands a turn would have been much more relevant than I initially gave it credit for. I figured I needed such a serious amount to do anything useful that I would die before I got anywhere making lands two at a time. In reality two lands a turn is exactly what this kind of deck wants. Lots of the time I was using Fastbond I was holding back and would have been better off with Exploration. Mostly my revisions to the deck make it look more like the vintage list, not a shocker really!

I managed to win some games with goats, that was fun. I managed to win more than one (yes, two) with Maze's End combo as well! It is great to have a hard to disrupt way of winning pretty much regardless built into your deck but given it also takes up over 25% of the slots I could probably have done a little better. It meant the majority of my coloured sources were coming into play tapped and as such I was at least a turn slower than I could have been. My original plan was simply to use a load of man land cards as my backup win condition but I figured with was easily beatable and not playing to my strengths of being a deck that is hard to interact with. Although Springjack Pasture and Westvale Abbey did do some good things it was not the intended things. I would not still play the pasture without the Mistveil plan. 

Thespian's Stage
The Thespain Stage and Dark Depths combo was something I was stupid not to add. It is a far less onerous win condition than most and fairly effective. If going that route things like Crop Rotation are really worth playing and you look even more like a combo deck than you did before.

Zuran Orb and Splendid Reclaimation would have been a great combo had Eldritch Moon been available when we started this event. Boseiju starts to have some utility then but likely not worth it still. Splendid Reclaimation is a way to get huge value and a huge influx of lands at once. You need to set it up a bit but when you do it is all the things you want in your deck rolled up into one neat package. Bazaar, Trade Routes, sac and cycle land, Zuran Orb, Gamble, Crop Rotation, Cephalid Coluseum and I am sure many more cards that are decent in this kind of deck already support the Reclamation nicely. When you have a deck with Fastbond and Zuran Orb in it it is really hard not to want to play Crucible of Worlds too. At this point you have quite a different looking suite of spells and likely a rather different take on the deck. I shall try and give a list for what mine should have been and what you could do with a Reclamation build.

Dark DepthsObviously Wastelands and Stripmine are both nutty good in this kind of deck, as indeed was the Dustbowl. They are far better still with the Crucible of Worlds option. I have used that combo plenty before and know it is good. For the even in question I didn't have the points spare to invest in them nor the urge to bore people with things I have done before. The best build of this would include as many of such cards you can get your hands on.

I had included a Mistveil Plains and some ways to produce white tokens so as to activate it. The idea being that I could win the long game and survive having key components of my deck put into the graveyard such as Siesmic Assault. In reality this was magical cloud land thinking. Usually I didn't have that sort of time and if I did I could more likely just win another way. Certainly with the slots instead of those cards I could easily include the Thespian Stage Dark Depths combo and have better options.

Dark DepthsThe card that I missed most was Urborg, Tomb of Yawmoth. Whenever I had one of my non-mana producing lands as an early lay I was really sad I couldn't draw into the Tomb and solve that problem. The deck has a huge number of lands that produce no mana and it was a huge blunder. I figured I had so much land and so little use for black that it wasn't worth a slot but I was very wrong. Another thing I really missed was Deserted Temple. It would have won be several games that I lost for a variety of different reasons. I lost once to lockdown on my fatal Inkmoth Nexus from a Frost Titan that I could have solved with the Temple. In another game I would have been able to win in time with Maze's End combo being speed up double. In a deck where all your things come from lands and you have one of each then the ability to double up on things is pretty huge. Vesuva has some application there too but doesn't seem quite worth it.

Between Maze of Ith, Tabernacle, Glacial Chasm and goat tokens I managed to hold off way more aggression than expected. There were occasions I wished I had included Ice Floes and Island of Wak-Wak as well though! In reality space is too tight in my silly Maze list but if you didn't replace that with man land and token producers then you may well have room for some more luxury protection lands like these. They certainly are better if you have Urborg...

Glacial ChasmThere were a couple of other cards I considered briefly. Arcane Sanctum was a possibility if I was facing any sort of Solitary Confinement prison deck or some kind of naughty hexproof card I needed to tie up in the Maze of Ith. Rogues Passage was an option for getting in with Inkmoth Nexus but it is removal rather than blockers that pose a problem for that route and as it costs so much to use it rather negates the use of Wolf Run. All told the Passage seems one of the least useful cards I considered.

Bojuka Bog is a great disruption tool but not one needed in the meta I was playing the deck in. Fine to run main if you have a bit of spare space as it will still disrupt most decks a little bit but generally more of a sideboard thing in cube. Nomad Stadium is literally one of the worst magic cards of all time and I strongly considered it for the deck. It is easily the best life gain land for this list with all the others being far too slow or relying on having creatures. Like the Bog it is so narrow I would tend to prefer it as a sideboard card for the red matchups. If you really need the life then Zuran Orb is clearly a more potent card for the task too. Overall I suspect Khalni Garden saves more life on average than the Stadium as lands go but that itsn't really the point. 

Lastly for the quirky lands I was considering Tolaria West as a tutor tool. In my list it is fairly slow and weak however when you have more in the way of land based combo such as Dark Depths the card starts to look a whole lot more appealing. 

So, here we have my revised lists now that I have some actual play experience with the archetype. This first one is just what my deck should have been. The latter is likely just a better cube version of the deck but having not tested its different style out I cannot swear to that as yet! Neither are perfect but both are far closer to the mark than anything on this archetype I have done or posted before.

10 Spells

Crop Rotation

Life from the Loam
Trade Routes
Treasure Cruise

Seismic Assault
Wheel of Fortune

30 Lands

Dust Bowl
Deserted Temple

Urborg, Tomb of YawgmothUrborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Glacial Chasm
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Bazaar of Baghdad
Maze of Ith

Kessig Wolf-Run 
Inkmoth Nexus 

Dark Depths
Thespian Stage

Forgotten Cave
Tranquil Thicket

Orzhov Guildgate
Tranquil ThicketDimir  Guildgate
Rakdos  Guildgate
Gruul  Guildgate
Boros  Guildgate
Golgari  Guildgate
Simic  Guildgate
Izzet  Guildgate
Azorius  Guildgate
Selesnya  Guildgate

Maze's End

Cascade Bluffs 
Fire-lit Thicket 
Mossfire Valley
Copperline Gorge 
Yavimaya Coast

This is the Crucible Zuran Orb version without the Maze's End combo. 

10 Spells
Splendid Reclamation

Zuran Orb

Crop Rotation

Life from the Loam
Trade Routes

Crucible of Worlds
Seismic Assault

Splendid Reclamation

30 Lands

Bazaar of BaghdadDeserted Temple
Westvale Abbey

Creeping Tar Pit
Khalni Garden
Tolaria West
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Glacial Chasm
The Tabernacle at Pendrell Vale
Bazaar of Baghdad
Maze of Ith

Kessig Wolf-Run 
Inkmoth Nexus 

Thespian Stage
Deserted TempleDark Depths

Forgotten Cave
Lonely Sandbar
Tranquil Thicket
Barren Moor

Cascade Bluffs 
Fire-lit Thicket 
Mossfire Valley
Izzet Boilerworks
Copperline Gorge 
Yavimaya Coast
Misty Rainforest
Crumbling Vestige
Graven Cairns 
Shadowblood Ridge

Looking at these two lists now I actually suspect the best deck is somewhere between the two. Losing the Maze's End combo from the first to allow for more of the useful lands in the second list but forgoing the Splendid Reclaimation efforts in favour of more consistency. 

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Isca Trail Run Results

Results for the trial run of the Isca draft format are in!

ME Swanker Copperline George Farlo Sideshow Cob The Phyrexian Action Dan Old Fava Beens
2 – 1 2 – 1 0 – 2 0 – 2 0 – 2 2 – 0 1 – 2
Swanker 1 – 2
2 – 1 1 – 2 0 – 2 0 – 2 2 – 1 2 – 1
Copperline George 1 – 2 1 – 2
1 – 2 2 – 0 2 – 1 2 – 1 2 – 1
Farlo 2 – 0 2 – 1 2 – 1
2 – 0 1 – 2 2 – 0 2 – 0
Sideshow Cob 2 – 0 2 – 0 0 – 2 0 – 2
0 – 2 2 – 1 0 – 2
The Phyrexian 2 – 0 2 – 0 1 – 2 2 – 1 2 – 0
2 – 1 0 - 2
Action Dan 0 – 2 0 – 2 1 – 2 0 – 2 1 – 2 1 – 2
0 – 2
Old Fava Beens 2 – 1 1 – 2 1 – 2 0 – 2 2 – 0 2 – 0 2 – 0

Farlo 6-1 (Big Blue Cheese)
The Phyrexian 5-2 (Mono Red Burn)
Copperlin George (Auntie Goblin Bidding) / Old Fava Beens (Mono Black Devotion) 4 - 3
Swanker (BG Constellation Aggro)/ Me (Lands) / Sideshow Cob (Kiln Fiend One Shot) 3 - 4 
Action Dan (UW Opposition Tokens) 0-7

Actual Decklists Below:

Lots of fun, lots of interesting decks, lots of imbalance, and lots of insight into how best to improve the format. Revised points list, thoughts on the format to come.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Link to Top 16 Blue Cube Counterspells

Spell BlastAlthough this is a rework of an existing article it is much nicer with the editing and I would recommend reading it on the Troll Trader Cards site over my blog! It is in four parts as well rather breaking it down nicely.

Kaladesh Conclusions and Additions

Kaladesh is a nice set. It has lovely flavour and some interesting mechanics. Planeswalkers and combat tricks got a bit of a boost all round. Energy as a theme didn't seem to make it although there are still a couple of viable standalone energy cards. Perhaps Aether Revolt will bring some more cards to reopen the case! Vehicles I still don't know about but look forward to playing them. Overall the set is very powerful. There are a lot of those sleeper cards that will crop up in modern years down the line and dominate for a bit until something is banned! A lot of the power is higher up the curve which reduces their cube utility but there is still plenty of juice to be added into the cube. Loads into the main drafing cube but also loads needing to be squirreled away for various constructed cube uses. Kaladesh is bringing a lot more to the cube than most sets in all the areas that I look at cube cards for.

The Auto Includes (and Top Cube Cards from Kaladesh)

1.   The Enemy Quick Lands
2.   Smuggler's Copter
3.   Chandra, Torch of Defiance
4.   Nissa, Vital Force
5.   Verdurous Gearhulk
6.   Voltaic Brawler
7.   Veteran Motorist
8.   Dovin Baan
9.   Gonti, Lord of Luxury
10. Servo Exhibition
11. Angel of Invention
12. Filigree Familiar

The Ones I Will Test

Saheeli Rai
Demon of Dark Schemes
Skysovereign, Consul Flagship
Renegade Freighter
Fleetwheel Cruiser
Sky Skiff
Cultivator's Caravan
Cataclysmic Gearhulk
Combustible Gearhulk
Torrential Gearhulk
Thriving Turtle
Kambal, Consul of Allocation
Blossoming Defence
Bomat Courier
Harsh Scrutiny
Aether Theorist
Creative Spark
Cathartic Reunion

Other Cards of Interest that will go into the cube reserves

Inventor's Fair
Sequestererd Stash
Aetherwork's Marvel
Foundry Inspector
Era of Innovation
Brazen Scourge
Insidious Will
Syndicate Trafficker
Perpuetual Timepiece
Fateful Showdown
Aether Hub
Dramatic Reversal
Master of Inquiries
Select for Inspection
Authority of the Consul
Ceremonious Rejection
Larger than Life
Animation Module
Paradoxical Outcome
Aetherflux Reservior
Key to the City
Metalwork Colossus
Inventor's Apprentice
Toolcraft Exemplar

aggro energy.dec

In order to see how viable the support energy card will be in cube I have put together an overly focused energy deck that uses almost all the viable aggressive stuff. The deck isn't optimal but it will show me how good the energy stuff is likely to be in this guise in the cube. Although obviously not yet tried the deck it looks pretty poor on paper, like a bad Zoo deck. It has some cute things it can do but few of them are more powerful than just casting good cube cards. It turns out there is far too few one drops that involve energy and nothing really broken you can end games with. I'll trying something like this out and get my head kicked in but it will none the less satisfy a good itch! I think this exercise likely just means I can at least -1 to my rating for every card that I have stipulated needs other energy stuff to be good to have a chance.

24 Spells

Attune with the Aether
Thriving Tutrle
Birds of Paradise
Noble Hierarch

Lightning Bolt
Animation Module
Cloudfin Raptor

Servant of the Conduit
Sage of Shaila's Claim
Era of Innovation
Thriving Grubs

Decoction Module
Voltaic Brawler
Longtusk Cub
Harnessed Lightning

Atarka's Command

Fabrication Module
Empyreal Voyager
Deadlock Trap
Whirler Virtuoso

Lathnu Hellion
Architect of the Untamed

Armourcraft Judge (unreal that this seems viable given how much I hated on it in the review)
Bloodbraid Elf

16 Lands
including an Aether Hub

Now, this looks like a pile of garbage for cube, and it is basically. I think we can fiddle this about a bit and make it look like a really potent standard deck.

4 Thriving Turtle
4 Attune to the Aether

4 Voltaic Brawler
4 Longtusk Cub
4 Harnessed Lightning
4 Thriving Grubs

Looks like a really solid starting point that you can flesh out and take in a wide array of directions. That is enough thinking about standard. Back to cube! I am going to try a list for an Aetherworks Marvel cube deck. More of a combo take on energy. Seems like it will be better but mostly because it will use that many less energy cards... Still seems like it will struggle to even be tier two. We kind of already knew it as block mechanics almost never get archetypes in cube. They just don't ever print enough good one drops for them and so you have no low end support or just some really underpowered cards. Energy is narrow, unless your energy card wins the game or does all the things it needs to on its own while being very powerful then it isn't a card for cube.

Kaladesh Initial Review Part IV

Authority of the Consuls 2

Although very cheap and rather potent in the right matchup this does little to nothing in many matchups. Rarely do you want their guys coming in tapped as well as life, usually one or the other is the thing your deck needs. The life is too minor to be worth the card and the coming in tapped is just too situational for my liking. This could be a decent sideboard card but I don't see it being something you want in any cube maindeck. Certainly not a card for the drafting cube.

Bomat Courier 5.5

Really cool design here. This is powerful and cheap and versatile but sufficiently slow to setup that it is far from overpowered. It is a Raging Goblin any colour can play. It is an artifact which is cheap and thus will help a lot of decks looking for synergy support cards. Each attack you get with this it reserves a card from your deck. For just one red mana you can sac the Courier and pitch your remaining hand to get all the reserved cards into your hand. In a perfect sort of situation you make the Courier turn one and get to attack with it every turn. Let us say that you empty your hand on turn four then you can cash in your Courier for four cards. That is 2 mana for 4 damage and 4 cards drawn. There is nothing really like this in cube, the closest is probably an Ancestral Visions. This is much quicker to be useful late in the game but will rarely be such a potent first turn play as I described or indeed as Ancestral Visions! You need the Courier to live to be able to cash it in. This means you can only ever reliably get one card out of it if they have blockers. It also means that even if you get in multiple attacks, until you have sufficiently emptied your hand to make the cash in good value you are still incredibly vulnerable to any sort of removal on the little 1/1 Courier.

As it is exiling your cards you likely can't afford to run this in a deck without a good amount of redundancy. You don't want to lose to exiling an important card and having the Courier killed before you can use it. There is also the potential discard synergy for Courier. If you want to dump a load of your hand into the bin then this is a relatively cheap and effective way of doing so. It makes it much quicker to reach that good cash in point quickly in the game if you play it with discard synergy stuff. I can see this being viable in red deck wins and Welder, potentially in affinity too. The only other place I can really think wanting this is a Jund delirium style deck. Those homes will be plenty enough to make it playable and more exotic ones could easily exist. Cute and versatile card with very high top end potential. There will be a lot of tough choices for both palyers with this in play. Much as this ticks most of the boxes for a cube auto include card it is a touch underwhelming, even for a one drop, when you make it and take a long time to become that relevant.

Scrapheap Scrounger 3

This has reasonable stats for the mana and an OK recursion mechanic. Why I am not getting too excited by the card is because it doesn't really fit in that well anywhere. It is just a linear dork. The body is fine but far from exciting. Not being able to block puts it exclusively into the aggressive camp. Two mana to recur is what it costs to cast so you are only getting card value unlike Bloodghast which gets card and mana value on recursion. Lastly you have to exile other creatures which is generally pretty uncomfortable. In the kind of deck you would play this there is a good chance a lot of your other dorks also have from graveyard effects. Certainly a playable card but not one that I am eager to try out in anything really.

Dovin Baan 6.5

Just a very solid and well rounded planeswalker. He does all the core things you want a planeswalker to do and he does them pretty well. He protects you and himself from enemy creatures and their pesky activated effects. He draws you cards and throws in some life to ensure you have the time to use those cards and he threatens a scary ultimate should he not go unchallenged. Dovin is the first Azorius planeswalker to be widely playable and not need specific deck design to make him good. Dovin will just be good anywhere. He is quite a lot like Jace, Architect of Thought. Raw power wise Dovin is the better card but as a gold card he is still marginally less playable. Both are planewalkers where you are happy to use there -loyalty ability over and over until they are spent. There are not many where you can do this and feel like you got good value from your walker. Four mana for six life and three cards is pretty decent! The emblem doesn't win the game nor is it that likely to be used as the -1 is just so juicy. Despite this the ultimate is pretty scary and just the threat of it will ensure Dovin can't be ignored. The +1 ability is more than just a protection effect. You can target a Rofellos and deny them mana production should that be what you need to do. Dovin is a threat and he can create a favourable change in tempo or in card advantage. This is the crux of what you want a planeswalker to do. The planeswalkers in Kaladesh have been tuned up a notch it seems.

Aetherborn Marauder 0

Just a dork and not even a very good one of those. Beyond refreshing undying guys there is little merit to be had from moving about your own +1/+1 counters onto this. Low power and narrow but then it is a limited card so I probably shouldn't be wasting my time reviewing it in this cube review...

Salivating Gremlins 0

This can hit very hard pretty easily. It is a viable threat in a deck like affinity. The thing is that affinity is pretty full up and has cheaper better cards than this. You could use this in an Enduring Renewal combo if you liked but it wouldn't be better than an alternate finisher.

Ruinous Gremlin 0

Nice that red has this option on the curve. I think this might even be better than Scavenger Folk! The thing is I don't think it is better than Torch Fiend. Overall it is a cheaper way to remove things and is actually a relevant body as well. Also, there is a card called Gorilla Shaman if you really want a one drop than can smash up artifacts.

Whirler Virtuoso 3

This is pretty efficient all round as dorks go. It is a 3/4 for three with some bonus utility and synergy. Part flying, part artifact, an energy source and an energy dump. All of this gives you some decent options with a card that is pretty good value. The issue is where are you playing this? It is a very midrange card in the least midrange of colour pairings. The only place I really see this is in an energy deck which will almost certainly not be a thing that finds its way into the drafting cube. This reminds me most of Catacomb Sifter, that was a card that fitted perfectly well into the colours yet still didn't get much play as it was just a bit too generic and middle of the road.

Padeem, Consul of Innovation 2

Quite powerful and synergic effects but far too situational for a drafting cube. There may well be occasion to play this in more constructed cube formats. I played Hanna's Custody in an extended GP (thats right, go look up what it does, no one ever knows) and Leonin Abunas in standard! This is a decent chunk better than Abunas but it is still a four drop with relatively little impact on the board. The card draw is nice but the thing is, if you are going to the trouble of protecting your stuff then you should be winning with that stuff! You don't ever play this as a card draw tool alone, you have to want to protect your artifacts for this to be viable. Spellskite seems like the card that does that best. Counterspells probably come after that...

Inventor's Apprentice 3

Kird Ape style of card that wants artifacts in play to become not awful. Not many aggressive red decks have artifacts in play. There is some call for that kind of synergy in red already but really very little, white has more of it. The power you seem to gain from being a bit kwirky doesn't seem worth it, both in general in the cube and specifically to this card.

Attune with the Aether 3

Lay of the Land plus two free energy. Sounds good. Traverse will step on this cards toes in standard for a good while but this will still be the big name in the energy decks. This is one of the best energy sources they have printed. It is very low cost, gives a decent amount of mana and is card neutral. I suspect a green standard energy deck will play a full set of these. If such a deck transfers over to cube then this will come with it. Obviously this only gets play in energy decks and such things seem unlikely. Great card though.

Chandra's Pyrohelix 6

This is called Fire, there is no such thing as a Pyrohelix. Its not a Twin Bolt either, what an awful name, Twin Bolt obviously does 6 total damage. Twin Ping I might accept! Anyway, Fire, good card. Ruins green and white players days. Ruins creature decks pretty hard. One of the reasons that red is overpowered! Not quite sure how many of these cards you want in a cube but it is certainly cube worthy along with all the others, Forked Bolt, Avacyn's Judgement, the works!

Skywhaler's Shot 2

This is pretty solid removal but it just a tad too pricey for cube use although the scry is a huge temptation.

Aethersquall Ancient 1

Without the ability to use the energy right away this is far too slow for the cube. A 6/6 flier is good but as a 7 drop it is far less so. Briefly contrast this to Dragonlord Atarka... Another card that is in the massive pile of unlikely energy only cards.

Metalwork Colossus 3

I like my Colossus to have indestructible but I would happily forgo that for some trample. This card aches for trample. Without it is isn't that exciting. Even in cube where you can easily cast this for zero on like turn three. The recursion mechanic is a nice little perk that makes the card more rounded and usable but it really doesn't solve the lack of trample problem. Bosh Iron Golem is the reason to play this card! Beyond that I don't really see it. Just play a threat that does something. This card has more of the Squee and the Draco about him than he has anything resembling more traditional Colossi!

Disappearing Act 0

Because Deprive was too good.... Sure, this has some synergy with Mana Vault and EtB stuff but that is not the kind of thing you want tacked onto a counterspell.

Perpetual Timepiece 3.5

Very interesting card design here and one that may well make it into the cube. This is part self mill Splinterfright style card and part Elixir of Immortality. Now such things may seem at complete odds with each other which is true and may well harm the playability of this outside of cube. In the cube however this really enables graveyard based decks rather well. One of the issues with cube dredge style decks is that you run out of deck too fast and have a small window of time left alive one you hit your critical mass. This card lets you go ham on your library while having a lot more safety. Often such lists run things like Primeval Command just to have some means to live longer but this is a useful proactive card that helps you do what you want to without fear rather than a do nothing 5 drop. I am not sure how deep you need to be before this is something worth putting in your deck. Does a bunch of flashback and delve with  a Grim Lavamancer cut it? Likely not. Do all the jund graveyard guys in a deck do it for the Timepiece? Perhaps. Useful and interesting card. Glad to have it as an option.

Creative Spark 4 (as a result of some heavy bias!)

This is one of my favourite designs on a card, not just in the set but of all time. I really hope I can find ways to make this playable. So, you need a creature in play to target this with even if you want to cycle it. That is fine, you can use your own but it does reduce the utility of the card. It is also a poor turn one play as you cannot realistically hope to use the thing you reveal and have little control over what you hit. Unless you are gunning down a Phantasmal Bear this is very poor turn one removal. I guess if you absolutely need to kill the thing now (Mother of Runes?) then it might be worth a punt. This is a pretty weak RDW card as you have such low average CMC that you are better off running any kind of Shock or even Flame Slash! This card is somewhere between a Spark Spray and a Flameslash but more awkward. To offset this awkwardness it has some perks going for it as well. Firstly, you can one shot most creatures in the cube with this which is quite exciting for a one mana red spell. When you do miss with it as a removal spell you will generally get the cycling effect. I see this having some hope of being playable in prowess decks and artifact ramp decks. Prowess decks don't have loads of high CMC stuff but they do have the odd 8 mana delve card and so forth combined with a selection of cards that give you control and information over the top card of your deck. It is also a potential one mana red card neutral prowess trigger which is nice too. In ramp decks things like Scroll Rack and Dvining Top are quite good and you have plenty of expensive stuff to make Spark an OK removal card. Being able to have something useful that also cycles away and thins the deck is also something ramp decks are fond of. Sadly I think this is too narrow for the cube but I really really like the card. More of this please.

Brazen Scourge 6

While this looks rather dull it is actually pretty good. This is likely easier to cast than Boggart Ram-Gang even in a red green deck. Having the freedom to play things like Kessig Wolf Run is significant and Scourge lets you do that well. Wither is a relevant ability but it is far from one of the better ones. You play Ram-Gang because it is a 3/3 for 3 with haste. So is this. Red has recently got a lot of good three drop dorks so perhaps this no longer cuts it. Certainly a good card just perhaps not needed in cube.

Refurbish 1

I don't play Resurrect, I won't play this. A somewhat unique effect for white at least so might see a little dabbling of play.

Oviya Pashiri, Sage Lifecrafter 0

Lots of text and healthy stats for the mana but far too slow and expensive in what it offers. This wishes it was a Deathrite Shaman and it so utterly isn't.

Captured by the Consulate 0

Quite comedy. Kill your dork but really make you kill it so I get a nice two for one. In reality this is a bad four mana Pacifism that will itself get removed and return the scary threat to play. Far to clumsy and situational for a four mana removal spell.

Cathartic Reunion 6.5

At a glance this looks like the closest thing to Brainstorm they have every printed. While it obviously still isn't near that standard this card has a massive amount going for it and indeed outperforms the Brainstorm in a few ways. With both this and Brainstorm you essentially see three new cards and do away with two others. While top of deck and discard both have loads of synergies we could discuss and compare at length the more important factor is what the card does in isolation. Brainstorm isn't really card quality if you can't further manipulate the top of your deck. Cathartic Reunion is a near Brainstrom level of card quality that needs no support to be good. It is about twice the card quality that you get from Tormenting Voice. So, lets look at the downsides because this sure as hell has them. Firstly, you get this countered and you have lost. It is like having a Brainstorm Plagiarized! Secondly, if you don't have two cards in hand to ditch, this does nothing. Brainstorm gets to pitch cards from the 3 news ones while this doesn't and that makes it much harder to just fire off. All told I think the pro's of this card greatly outweigh the cons. I am all for shit red Brainstorm, sign me up. I can avoid running a two mana spell into a counterspell. I can remember to consider my land drops and things for cards like this I have in my deck. I would happily play this in any deck with graveyard synergy from Reanimate to delirium and I would happily play it in RDW or Izzet prowess. Very potent but in a rather red way it is compensated by risk rather than awkwardness or sloth.

Weaponcraft Enthusiast 2

Pretty darn awful but has some mild application as one of the cheapest ways to make a load of tokens in black. If you really just need bodies to sac and things then this is an OK tool for the job. Other than a source of 1/1s and an 0/1 this guy is pretty awful.

Reckless Fireweaver 1

No real decks for this and none likely to crop up in the drafting cube. Some mild combo potential with this one but little hope beyond that.

Restoration Gearsmith 2

Hill Giant Graverobber plus! Even with a 2 for 1 a Hill Giant, especially a gold one is far from good enough to be cube worthy. Playable in a midrange deck but just so underwhelming.

Foundry Inspector 3

You can get this effect already for two mana if you can find a blue among them. This has more attack power but that isn't why you are playing it. I think this is a bit vulnerable and three mana to see much play but you should never rule these kinds of card out. Cost reduction is a powerful effect and these dudes can reduce things to the most broken cost of all - zero! Mild affinity potential and some mild combo potential too.

Era of Innovation 3

I really don't know what to make of this one. Sometimes it looks like 2 mana to draw 3 cards and other times it looks more like an Ancestral Visions that actually cost you five mana. Two energy for any creature of artifact is quite a good influx however having to pay a mana is a real chore. It stops you curving well but wants to be played early. As pure draw this is too expensive, slow and conditional. As pure energy gain it is too onerous on your mana. As a good source of energy that can turn into a bunch of cards as and when that is the way to go then perhaps this is a good tool but it would then be a very narrow one. The card has a lot of angels and does some powerful things but it all feels a little too convoluted.

Master of Marionettes 1

Very cool design and interaction with the fabricate. For cube you want this to make dorks and as such it is pretty poop. Five is the going rate for one man armies, at six this is rather dwarfed by Grave Titan. The life loss mechanic on Master of Marionettes is a mild boost but to get much out of it will be rare. It will be 3 or 4 without other artifacts in your deck or pump effects!

Insidious Will 3.5

Now this is actually rather interesting. Despite being way over cost for any of the one effects the option on them makes this card both very powerful and very reliable. Misdirection allows for some of the biggest swings in the game but you can rarely play it because it is so narrow. This is always a Counterspell, all be it a terrible one, but when you can win a game with a Redirect then it is fairly tasty. A good Redirect hit is typically more value than a good Cryptic Command hit. There are not many situations Twincast is a better option than either Counterspell or Redirect however it can happen. Typically you want to copy your own things and that is not at all likely with a four mana card. At three mana this would be one of the best counterspells in the game (like top 10, which is still really good). At four mana it is likely too clunky. If the cube continues to slow down (by which I mean longer games rather than more expensive cards) then this might creep in just but for now this is still a no go.

Fairgrounds Warden 2

Fiend Hunter got mildly easier to cast. Banisher Priest is the best of those cards and it rarely sees play as it is too easy to undo the removal and get blown out. This suffers the same issue and is further down the pecking order. Playable but hardly good.

Syndicate Trafficker 3.5

This is somewhere between an Arcbound Ravager and a Falkenrath Aristocrat for what it does but sadly it is no where near the potency of either of them. The need of artifact synergy does not suit cards that are not artifacts themselves. This also needs mana up to activate it which makes it doubly hard to keep alive as an early play. This is a very good card in the right sort of deck but I am not quite sure what that deck is. A kind of value tempo deck with loads of cheap disposable artifacts? The new Daretti and things like clues will help this be good but I don't think there is enough of that sort of stuff for this to be worth a drafting cube slot.

Fumigate 1

Neat little perk for a Wrath card to have but this is still a five mana Wrath. Really a five mana Wrath needs to be instant before it is much of a cube consideration. These days is it quite common to Wrath one or two guys as well making this unreliable life gain.

Renegade Freighter 5.5?

Well this is a very punchy vehicle indeed. For three mana you get to have something that can attack as a 5/4 trample. Curving out with this and the two drop in red that gives vehicles haste will be such a beating in limited. For cube this looks like one of the better aggressive vehicles. Crew two is not too problematic for most aggressive decks and this really does pack some punch for the mana. It may even be viable in things like affinity where being an artifact is a big deal, as is having evasion. Just thinking about this card I have realized that vehicles, in particular this one and the big Consul Ship jobby, scale very well with Relentless Assault effects. Not that any of them are in the cube but something to keep in mind none the less. This might just be too much of a dork to be cube worthy but my hope is the extra options vehicles present will make this kind of thing useful enough.

Aradara Express 0

The big durdly vehicles clearly are not the thing for cube. This is hard to crew, hard to cast and way too easy to kill. Even if it is getting to attack it is hardly a game breaking threat. Three turn clock with no bonus value is not impressive.

Ballista Charger 0

Unlike the Sky Skiff this has no chance of seeing cube play despite there being a functionally better version of the vehicle on offer. The Skyship Consul thing is just so much juicier than this and it is not a card so potent that you want everything there is like it as well.

Sequestererd Stash 2

Generally worse than the Inventor's Fair but unique lands are almost impossible to rule out. This has some graveyard synergy and some top of deck synergy. You can use this to good effect with Combustible Gearhulk and Creative Spark if you have a big thing! Far from a bomb and generally worse than Academy Ruins but still a card with some potential.

Eager Construct 1

This is a bit too fair of a body and the scry is rather negated in value by giving it away as well. Hard to rule out a cheap artifact body with scry but it would be a very specific or quirky use if this ever sees play.

Deadlock Trap 2

This is a kind of Tumble Magnet that works on planeswalkers and creatures. Tumble Magnet was decent but not quite enough punch to be a mainstay. This is even less punch with two built in activations only and having to wait a turn to use it. The latter really hurts the tempo of this card and pretty much rules it out. The only possible place for this is of course, the mythical energy deck I have yet to build and lose horribly with! With loads of other energy stuff this could be a fantastic Icy Manipulator or that boost of energy you need that turn. Cool card but like so many, very narrow.

Consulate Skygate 2

This actually deals with a lot and potentially offers more synergy than you might think. Certainly not a great card, not powerful enough for a drafting cube, but a card you could reasonably find in some more specific constructed style cube decks.

Veteran Motorist 7.5

Well this is rather spicy. I love that they are putting scry on aggressive and otherwise playable creatures. Obviously without the scry this is far far too narrow for cube. With it, and two of it, this is a really good value two drop. Three power is a good amount to have. The stats are enough and so the scry has that rare "free" feeling. Really you are paying for it with something like two more toughness or first strike because that is how good gold cards are these days but still, a 3 power two drop is a fine starting place. Scry 2 is doing something you can't get at all easily on good tempo cards and that is why I am so excited about this card. Really it is fair but it is exactly the sort of thing you want which is more important than random power. Speaking of random power we have the vehicle clause on this. I am sure it will come up here and there, this does very efficiently crew most things, certainly all the things I plan to put into the cube. Either way, that last ability in no way effects my cube rating for this card. I greatly greatly look froward to going one drop two drop scry two. That feels really rather winning!

Empyreal Voyager 2

This is another semi Vampire Nighthawk style card. Sadly trample is not so hot on a two power dork although it does scale with the energy production value of the card. This is a pretty good energy generator but it is too gold and fair without a super good use for that energy and ideally some pump to milk the Voyager a bit more.

Servant of the Conduit 2

Good card but not good enough as a stand alone one. As ever, this has the clause "needs to have other things that might want the immediate energy influx" before it is cube worthy and that leaves it very narrow. At least this aggro energy deck is looking like it has lots of support even in a singleton format!

Sage of Shaila's Claim 2

While worse than the last card in a vacuum as you are mostly about the energy this card isn't that different. Obviously all the same narrow clauses apply!

Ornamental Courage 2

Another double use combat trick. This is a lot less useful than gaining hexproof and the single power gain takes a lot of the punch out of this. I don't see it as a pure trick but being so cheap it could just as well turn up in some combo decks. Ascendancy type things...

Fateful Showdown 3

Expensive and situational. Not a card I like but there is some application for it. I can see it setting up big Reanimate plays or just killing people with Griselbrand after such events. Very narrow but unique and potentially powerful. This is only really potent when you have five or more cards in hand and when you have that many it is rare you want to ditch them!

Subtle Strike and Rush of Vitality 1

Neither are quite cheap, powerful or broad enough to see cube play but they are both good solid cards that along with many from Kaladesh represent a significant power creep in combat tricks.

Night Market Lookout 0

A long time since Pulse Tracker was anywhere close to viable, it never really was to be honest. This might be better but is still unplayable for all the same reasons Pulse Tracker sucks.

Harsh Scrutiny 5

Ostracize was never quite reliable enough to see play. Despise was very close but didn't break through. Since those times creatures have continued to increase their frequency in cube decks. Colours also all have way more access to card quality effects allowing you to put dead cards to better use. Although Despise probably becomes playable before this the scry one is pretty huge. Turn one you almost always want to hit dorks over planeswalkers and so the scry is free juice when you are in best case scenario. These kinds of cards are pretty weak anyway in worst case scenarios including the best and broadest versions. I am going to try this out, I don't have high expectations but I do desperately want one mana scry cards and particularly black one drops for the cube.

Fretwork Colony 0

Back in the day this might have been good enough. It is a bit like the Slith series of guys except this doesn't need to get in to grow. Now a days you can get a lot more meat and value for two mana than this card which is just far too slow.

Embraal Bruiser 1

Acceptable stats and an evasion perk if you wind up with an artifact in play. While this is still playable without much or any artifact synergy it is pretty bottom of the barrel stuff.

Select for Inspection 3

Unsummon is a good cube card and this is most of Unsummon and has a scry bolted on. Part of the quality of Unsummon is no restrictions on target and so while I very much like this card I fear it will not be a satisfactory bounce spell. Good against aggression but poor to force through damage, disrupt mana production or other activated ability or vigilance dorks!

Minister of Inquiries 3

This is a lot of mill for the mana and that is just with the energy it comes with. If you can find a sensible way to gain more energy in a mill deck this is one of the best cheap cards such a deck has. Narrow but effective.

Glimmer of Genius 3

This is just about playable because it is instant. Two cards and scry 2 is good, well worth 3 mana but four is quite steep, you can get some really powerful things going on for four. You probably only play this when you have several good uses for energy in your list which seems rare.

Gearseeker Servant 0

Affinity is back! This time it is unplayable.

Dramatic Reversal 3

Turnabout for your non-lands at two mana is pretty dangerous. This is the second spell in this set that has some really abusive synergy with the top rate mana production artifacts and could get some vintage use. You can produce some disgusting openers with filthy amounts of mana and card draw. Very narrow outside of such decks but certainly a card with some serious combo applications. This one also works to some extent with things like mana elves so may see some modern play.

Confiscation Coup 1

Restriction on CMC and a five mana price tag rule this out for cube even if it is both Control Magic and Steal Artifact. It is a playable card as it scales with what is being played. When it is cube level bombs then the steal stuff gets better. Even so, this is a weak stealing card. Having an energy theme doesn't do much to change that. Could still be big news in standard I guess.

Aether Theorist 5.5

So I got a little over excited by Sigiled Starfish when they printed it. Suffice it to say I was well off the money on that one. This is somewhat of an upgrade. The one power makes all the difference and makes Theorist quite playable over the Starfish. Being able to block and kill things or nibble away for damage is useful. A 0/X body is basically just a lifegain spell and a pretty weak one at that. At least a 1/X dork threatens to trade or otherwise get value. This only gets 3 scrys compared to the ongoing ones from the Starfish but you are playing it for the early ones rather than the ones in ten turns time! Just in terms of scrying I don't expect the Starfish to do that much more work. Games don't go on that long, stuff doesn't live that long. Theorist is a cheap OK body and a scry three leading into the midgame. It is good filler in the way a Satyr Wayfinder is. It is fine in a deck with no other energy cards and mildly improves as you add them. Theorist is low power but reasonably streamlined and effective. You do have to actively want the 1/3 body to play this card otherwise it is card disadvantage on top of relatively low power level.

Servo Exhibition 7

This is weaker than Raise the Alarm of Gather the Townsfolk simply because it doesn't produce white things and thus doesn't scale so well with Honour the Pure and the like. White pump effects are moving away a little from only buffing white dudes and there are some artifact synergies on the go but still, the entry point for this card is a little below the others that do basically the same thing. Despite this tokens are great and two for two is a good deal. I expect this to see a bunch of play in exactly the same way the others see a bunch of play.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Kaladesh Initial Review Part III

Thriving Creatures (Turtle 5.5/10 Grubs 4/10, rest 0/10)

The design style on this cycle is really nice. Either a mediocre body and some energy to use on something or use that energy to turn the mediocre body into a decent one. It is said that an energy is roughly comparable to half a manas worth of value. In this regard it is really easy to see why the red and blue ones are the most interesting, remove a mana from their cost to offset the energy and you have a good value body even by cube standards. The higher cost and poor stat allocation rule out the others for all but the most energy focused decks and even then those decks seem likely to be tier 3 in cube!

Thriving Grubs are either a genereic 2/1 for 2 and a pair of energy or they are basically a 3/2 for 2. Just being a 2 drop that attacks for 3 is no longer enough for cube and so I can only see this being used in a deck with several other energy cards. This is good quality aggressive filler in such decks but not good enough to be worth including for the likes of RDW.

Thriving Turtle is a card that is more viable to use in a deck with no other energy sources. A 1/4 for 1 mana is pretty immense value in terms of stats per mana. Imagine a 2/8 for 2! While perhaps not the most proactive body it does still serve a lot of purposes. A 1/4 blocks most things pretty well in cube. It is pretty hard to remove which is good for devotion or equipment. I don't think you need any synergy with the energy and only mild synergy with a cheap tough body for this to be a viable cube card. If you make this as a one drop it is going to be pretty good and fairly reliably get to attack and pump itself. Later on in the game it will be harder to attack safely either because it puts you or it at too much risk by attacking. As such this could be more of a 0/3 than a 1/4 in the mid and late game which is less exciting. It is designed to be more effective as an aggressive dork but the stats are very defensive. In limited I can see some really rude openers with this and Glassblower's Puzzleknot. Attacking with a 3/6 on turn three having had 4 scrys and board control up to that point seems really powerful. Thriving Turtle is a great cheap energy support card and one of the most efficient energy sources. It has a good energy consumption mechanism and is just too much creature to be ignored for one mana. I can't see this not getting play in some format but it might well not be the cube. One power dorks historically need to do quite a lot more than being tough to be good in the cube.

Cultivator's Caravan 5?

This is a lot like the various Totems and Keyrunes that already exist and see no cube play. Three mana ramp has to be super good. My cube is a bit too fast for even Coalition Relic so there is little hope for this as a ramp card. The fixing is good but you can get fixing and ramp cheaper and better than this. There are some reasons this might see play where Totems and Keyrunes did not and that is the crew cost rather than mana to activate. Crew three is a lot, it limits this to midrange decks with a fairly creature heavy component. That is kind of fine as the places you might want a 3 mana single ramp card would likely be midrange. The Caravan can really smooth out your curve, either it gives you the required mana to do that little bit more or it can offer a kind of psuedo haste to your plays. Keyrunes and Totems only give value when you need the ramp or you have loads of spare mana to activate them. The Caravan works a lovely middle ground where it is really handy whatever you might be casting and for much longer into the game. It has significance as a threat almost right away and just gives you a lot of options on how you will play out the upcoming turns. My instinct on this card is that it isn't something you really want in cube but it could well be the business. It is hard to ignore what looks like a 3 mana 5/5 with a Birds of Paradise bolted on to it. As with most of the vehicles I'll need to test this one.

Wild Dreams 1

This is just pretty bad. Season's Past and Eternal Witness have this beat super hard at either end of the spectrum. This has no utility early and for the amount of mana you need to make this good you should just win the game instead. Nostalgic Dreams, even Holistic Wisdom are far superior mass recursion tools than this if for some reason Season's Past is not the thing. This card might be flexible but it is far too bad at all the points on its range to merit use.

Kambal, Consul of Allocation 5.5

Very potent indeed but this feels like a gold hoser card. In many matchups this will be a 3 mana 2/3 which is super bad. In others this will be either unbeatable or monumentally tedious. Something like a storm deck that has one out to this and needs to play a whole bunch of spells just to find that out is basically going to fold to this. If your storm deck is trying to go off with Tendrils of Agony it can't if this is in play on the other side. A control deck has to deal with this and it will hurt to do so. A deck like zoo will laugh in the face of a 2/3 and just smack your head in with bigger one drops... A card this polar in what it does while also being a bit harder to play as a gold card isn't the sort of thing I am keen to add to the cube. Certainly very powerful and worthy of testing but it will have to outperform expectation if it wants to stay in the cube.

Lost Legacy 0

Seems like an upgraded Cranial Extraction. Going to be good tech in some formats but in singleton cube this isn't pulling its weight. Good job R&D spotted the potential combo with Relentless Rats and made the card draw portion trigger on the hand cards only.

Aether Hub 5.5

Well this is pretty much a direct upgrade on Tendo's Ice Bridge. Energy is simply a much more transferable and useful resource than the counter on the Ice Bridge. Worst case scenario this is as good as Ice Bridge which is decent. It has been on of the best fixing cards for extreem combo decks for a while, especially those sensative to life loss. This is very playable and becomes good in a deck with much energy synergy. I reckon I'll want around five energy cards in the cube before I add this to the drafting cube simply because I have so many dual lands already. This would be a good include to any kind of cube trying to keep its land count low but still have as good fixing as possible.

Dynovault Tower 4

This card turns every two and a half subsequent instant or sorcery casts into a Lightning Bolt. Alternatively it is a way to either generate energy for other things or consume it from other places. I don't really see it being great in either of the two latter capacities. While it generates energy very efficiently the kinds of decks that seem to use it are not spell heavy and as such this isn't so handy. To make it balanced with the production the consumption rate on energy is quite steep to Bolt things and so I expect there are better energy dumps you can use. This makes this best as a stand alone card in a spell heavy deck you use to Bolt people with. It is not so much of a storm style card as you need to tap it each time you Bolt something. I see this as a prowess style card where you have lots of cheap spells and actively want to be dealing damage. In such decks in might be a bit top heavy but an interesting card with some really good synergies none the less. With enough things like Think Twice this might even be viable in a control deck just as a good value way to control the board. On the narrow side and reasonably fair but made much better by the cheap, abundant and potent instants and sorceries in the cube.

Aerial Gatherer 1

Three mana to Flicker something is too much for a one off card even if it cycles as well. This is too narrow in its application and too clunky even when in the perfect deck.

Night Owl 2

Quite cumbersome text on this one but probably worth it for a cool overall effect. This is a Phyrexian Arena that doesn't directly cost you life. Instead the punishment is increasingly smaller hand size and potential life loss if discarding occurs for you. Neither of these effects should be relevant although it does make some other cards a little weaker to include (such as Liliana of the Veil) and some strategies simply not interested in this card (control decks). Even if both the drawbacks have no impact on you this is still a four mana Phyrexian Arena which is really to far on the slow side for the cube. At three mana this would be rather juicy but four feels like it rules it out.

Dubious Challenge 1

A multiplayer card?! Unless you pair this with Homeward Path or Brooding Suarion this card is unplayable heads up. Having to pair it with those specific sorts of thing also make it pretty unplayable but still. The effect is pretty powerful for the mana, just a little too hard to break.

Cloudblazer 1

They added two life to Mulldrifter at the cost of an extra white in the cost and the loss of the all important evoke mechanic. In other words they printed a significantly narrower and weaker Mulldrifter. This is poor yet still not unplayable. In a flicker themed deck the life gain starts to look more relevant and no evoke a little less so. Pretty sure I'll never play this in a cube setting but it isn't impossible that someone will in my cube group!

Unlicensed Disintegration 1

Add a mana (and lose the "bury" aspect) to Terminate for a conditional Lava Spike. Not good or exciting but again, not totally unplayable. Hard removal is tough to include in a direct damage themed deck. This has some capacity to negate that but I am not sure why a Rakdos burn deck has sufficient artifacts to merit this? Again, this is not a card I'll ever play but it isn't utterly inconceivable someone will think it is the tech.

Smuggler's Copter 8.5

I don't need to know how good vehicles will be to know that this is a total bomb and cube mainstay. Pretty sure we will all be sick of this in-it-for-the-long-haul card very soon. There is just nothing bad about this. A 3/3 flying body for 2 is nutty good even if it isn't always able to attack. Throw onto that a looting, not for dealing combat damage, just for attacking, or for that matter blocking as well, and you have a really stupidly overpowered card. It is tempo, utility and value all in one. You play generic 1/1s for looting but for some reason this thing gets to be a 3/3 flier. At least all colours have access to it.

Fairly sure I rate this around where I rate Jitte and Skullclamp. The looter scooter has been pushed too far. In standard and modern it will be far from as broken as the equipment I mention because it is somewhat middle of the road and doing a bit of everything while the equipment have more direct impact. In cube however this blend of utility, synergy, card quality and tempo will be just the fit for so many archetypes. Jitte is a bit all in, you can get blown out with removal or have a bit of a lack lustre card should they be the right archetype or just have a good solution card. With the Copter you are never going to get blown out using it or be overly restricted on how you can build around it. It is a convenient card more so than one of raw power but it is still too good. Perhaps not the most powerful card in the set but so far the one I suspect will see the most play by a long margin not including the enemy dual lands. Sometime crew 1 will be a little inconvenient but other it will be really potent. It slightly limits the deck building with this card but overall I think crew 1 is a more of a perk than a negative (although that does have diminishing returns, a few cards with crew 1 in your deck and it starts to become less of a perk). This is gold dust for delirium decks where artifacts are one of the more awkward card types to include.

Fragmentize 1

Potent effect for the mana but sorcery speed is not the speed you want to do this effect.

Underhand Designs 0

Cool card but slow, clunky and narrow if you want to maximise it.

Toolcraft Exemplar 2

While this fairly easily attacks as a 3/2 and has OK odds of gaining first strike as well going into the midgame the card is very narrow and very linear. On defense this is just a 1/1 which makes it linear and you need to be playing artifacts in an aggressive deck which makes it narrow. Boros Elite seems generally better as it is only a linear card and offers much the same sort of package. This also not being an artifact offers little return synergy in an artifact deck. I don't like it much at all but then it is very hard to rule out a 3 power one drop. There are certainly decks in which this would work well. It has elegant synergy with Thraben Inspector and there are ways to painlessly include artifacts in white weenie style decks rather than affinity ones. Glint Hawk is a card that is like Toolcraft Exemplar and makes such strategies more worthwhile. There is not far off a critical mass of such cards, probably too narrow for a drafting cube still but might well crop other in other cube formats.

Electrostatic Pummeler 1

Pretty useless on its own and pretty hard to setup so this one shots people. The only merit I see in this is as a source of energy that has some effect on the board (say, compared to Puzzleknots). Really grasping at straws here. Almost certain to never see play.

Combustible Gearhulk 3

Rather the disappointment as a midrange card. Never ever will this see play over an Inferno Titan or any top end red planeswalker or dragon. Where this has some chance of seeing play is in combination with Goblin Welder and Daretti, Scrap Savant because it is an artifact. The body is OK and should dominate the board fairly well, especially if you cheat it out quickly. The ability is fundamentally pretty weak as it gives control to your opponent. The average it will hit for is like 6 in most midrange style decks but it could easily be a do nothing 2. They will almost always be choosing this mode unless they get really low on life. The two reasons this works well with Mr Red Gearhulk is that in the Goblin Welder style decks you do have some expensive cards and you also have graveyard synergy. While unlikely you can one shot someone with the ability which will make it a tougher choice for you opponent and one they could well cock up to their significant detriment. The more you weld this in and out of play the quicker they will have to start giving you free Ancestral Recalls and the more options you will have on things to weld back. This is a narrow card and generally quite a weak one but it does appear to work well in a fairly strong and established cube archetype.

Consulate Surveillance 0

Too expensive to cast, not enough energy supplied and too expensive to use as an ongoing means of protection. No thanks.

Glint-Nest Crane 3

A super narrow card but an incredibly good value one when in an appropriate setting. When playable this is the closest thing there is to a Baleful Strix and in some cases it is better! The obvious place for this is affinity as it is a cheap evasive dork that has artifact synergy. The issue is it is not an artifact and it is has coloured mana requirements making it far from an ideal affinity card. A more likely home for this is a combo artifact deck where you want good speed bumps but you also want powerful card quality effects. I think you need over ten artifacts in your deck before you can look at this. It only starts to get really good when you have close to double that which really isn't many decks at all, certainly none you can do in a drafting cube. Super super powerful but suitably narrow to keep it out of mainstream cube, likely most constructed formats too.

Blossoming Defense 6

This is really good. This is what Vines of the Vastwood wishes it was. Either this is a reasonable value for the mana pump effect that gives enough of a boost to turn most chump attacks and blocks into chumps in your favour. It also adds hexproof making it a counterspell to spot removal. Vine of the Vastwood was the latter but as a GG combat trick it was far too clumsy to be a mainstay. Combat tricks are tough to include in cube as it is with them being so narrow within games. Very few last long, the best ones are those with alternate uses. Blossoming Defense has an alternate use but it is also a little situational. My hope it that the cheapness of the card will carry it where others have failed. It is a card I will test rather than considering as an auto include but it is still one of the best green pump instants ever printed even if it doesn't stay in the cube.

Contraband Kingpin 1

What is this exactly? Odd stats, odd abilities and effects, odd. This needs a very specific sort of deck to do much of much. It is like the Crane in where you could potentially play it but it is back loaded in getting potential value thus making it a really lame speed bump. If it dies you get no value. It is quite a lot of stuff for the mana so hard to fully rule out but the stuff it has just doesn't seem to achieve very much.

Eliminate the Competition 0

This is wrecked by countermagic. It is also a very conditional five mana sort of Wrath effect. Nope.