Friday, 6 January 2017
Aether Revolt Preliminary Review Part III
Tezzeret's Touch 0
This is just a worse Ensoul Artifact. It costs more and the effect isn't great. It doesn't help that much when your 5/5 is indestructible or when they bounce it or deal with the Touch instead. Just to be clear as well, Ensoul Artifact has never been a good cube card, just a lot more playable than this.
Rogue Refiner 7.5
This is rather a pushed card. This is one power, one life and two energy better than a Phyrexian Rager. This doesn't need revolt to trigger it like the mono green one and as such is a fantastic filler card. There are basically no decks other than combo ones where I wouldn't play this if I had the colours. This is the only example of a dork which has power = to CMC that says draw a card on it. Abbot of Keral Keep is nearly there but not quite. Dark Confidant is only there if he survives. This is always a card right away without any real tempo cost. Sure, there are better 3 drop bodies, but there are plenty worse too. Energy was pretty unless in cube with barely any cards having any use for it. This means most of the time the Rogue Refiner will "just" draw the card for you in terms of extra value. The fact that it is still so good despite having one of its effects as a near blank. What Refiner will do for the cube is increase the potential value of the narrower and more marginal blue, green and colourless energy cards. Rogue Refiner is a substantially better card than Edric, Spymaster of Trest. It may not share the same upper range but that isn't what makes a card good. Being like Rogue Refiner is a good example of what makes a card good! Shardless Agent may still just about pip this for overall value and tempo but it is super close. The consistency and self contained nature of Refiner certainly makes it easier to build with. Shardless Agent is one of the premium gold cards and being comparable to it is a pretty big deal.
Renegade Rallier 6.5
So this also heavily pushed card competes very well with Bloodbraid Elf for overall value and tempo. The difference between a 4 CMC 3/2 with haste and a 3 CMC 3/2 without is pretty negligible. Both have minor pros and cons but essentially they are of the same value. Cascade for 3 typically averages at getting a 2 CMC card much like Rallier will typically do. Cascade is more proactive and better against countermagic than an EtB trigger but it is restrictive on your build and a little unreliable. Recurring things from the graveyard has loads of value in the cube but it is a slower thing to power up. On turns two or three you will not often have any targets. Being slower and more reactive of a card simply changes a little about where and how you play it rather than making it better or worse. In this case it helps to mitigate the cost of the revolt trigger which is the main thing keeping this from being another Bloodbraid. Revolt is pretty minor but it does greatly reduce the playability and consistency of this card. It likely makes the build as awkward as it does for cascade and will also make playing it that little bit more awkward. One huge saving grave for this card is the ability to put in extra land. Making this on or before the curve with a sac land and getting the sac land back right away is super strong. Compare that to the Wood Elves 1/1 body! Great card I expect to see quite a lot of. Selesnya does have some of the best and most rounded cheap gold cards, not to mention a lot of them. This means that Rallier will see a little less play than he might in another colour pairing.
Indomitable Creativity 1
At first look this seemed like it might have some combo style abuses. It kind of does but it is hard to do. As you need to destroy things to get those kinds of thing you cannot cheat and ensure you only have massive juicy things to get in your deck. You need some cheap small things to blow up. This means you need spells that create artifacts or creature tokens which in turn you can blow up to cheat out your things. Perhaps standard viable but too costly for modern. This could be OK for 4 but isn't obscene until it costs five or six. Without dorks or artifacts you cannot hope to cast this in time for it to be a good modern deck. In cube it being a single card that you have to build the whole deck around just makes it too vulnerable and inconsistent to be a good plan. Might be quite a fun combo variant but I am confidant it won't be a good one. As a removal tool this is like Chaos Warp but worse. It costs more, hits less types and is more of a risk.
Secret Salvage 0
Great card design. It is super interesting, like a sort of black take on Intuition. Sadly it does nothing in cube. There is less place in the cube for this than Squadron Hawk or Accumulated Knowledge...
Skyship Pirate 6
Thrumming Bird is a very powerful card but super niche due to how it was balanced. A 1/1 body rather a do nothing and so you have to be putting the proliferate to really good work else the Bird is unplayable. Skyship Pirate on the other hand has double the power of the Thrummer and is a viable threat. As such, all you need is a few things that work with the Pirate's effect and you have a pretty versatile little card. This could be +1/+1 counters, Jitte counters, loyalty counters, energy, -1/-1 counters and so on and so forth. Most decks will have targets, some will have good ones or lots of them. Quite a fair card but cheap and versatile enough that it should see some play.
Weldfast Engineer 1
This hits hard in the right situation, 2 right away and then 5 the following turn is not too shabby. Being gold, needing other dorks, needing them to be artifacts and just being a Trained Armodon when these things don't come together makes this far too narrow and situational for cube. You want a card like this to be convenient filler not something you have to work hard at to milk even a little extra value from.
Lightning Runner 0
Despite all the text this seems pretty awful. The body is small and vulnerable yet very pricey. The ability is not at all self contained, you have won already if you get all the energy to use it just from the Runner itself and there are not enough other good energy cards that this is ever a thing you can use right away. If it was it would have some game but still pretty situational and risky. This seems a tiny fraction better than a 4/2 haste for 5. In other words unplayable.
Walking Balista 6.5
This is a great card. It is what Triskellion has always dreamed of being. Given how old Triskellion is it lasted incredibly long in the cube despite the power creep. This is the aggressive version of Hangerback Walker and as such will likely see play in modern robots. I actually think this is good enough to incur the return of the Arcbound Worker. Now, this is a Mogg Fanatic for 2 that any colour can use. That in itself is not too shabby. This can trigger revolt and it can clear out annoying utility creatures with relative ease for colours that typically struggle to do such things. I'm not sure it is an auto include in any cube archetype as a standalone card other than affinity. The odd artifact ramp deck may include it as filler, the same for green ramp decks. Where this starts to shine is when you have extra synergy with the counters. If you can stick a bunch on with spells or planeswalkers cheaply and easily then this thing becomes pretty sick. Having to pay 4 to pump this up makes it only something you do late game but there are lots of things that give counters in the mid and early game in a super cost effective way. In decks with those tools this is a complete beating. It is acceptable early curve filler and utility and should the game go super late it is an all in one win condition and board control device. It is the new best way to win with infinite mana as it is easily tutorable and a useful enough stand alone card. Lots of utiltiy, lots of synergy, a great range, highly playable and a card that opens up some new avenues. Very interested to see how this one plays out. Despite all its perks the card is a very fair one that is almost never mana efficient.
Call for Unity 0
Nope. Super slow and expensive. Dictate of Heliod is so much more card than this I can't ever see me wanting this.
Aetherborn Warrior 5.5
This card makes me suspicious that revolt may actually be really hard to trigger as you want it. If it were easy then this card would be the new Flame Tongue Kavu. A card that was utterly oppressive back in its day. This is a better body than FTK and has a better effect for the mana. I fear this may be a bit annoying as you want your removal to work when you need it and this is only good when you are getting value from the -3/-3. Boneshredder still gets play despite being laughable as a body. The thing is it does its effect reliably and that is what you want it for. This could put a bit of a downer on Skin Renders cube life if it performs but my gut is saying otherwise. If triggering revolt costs you even a mana to do then this card isn't close to Skinrender and that seems like it might well be the case on average.
Aethertide Whale 6
This probably is the thing. It is the Aetherling for those players in more of a hurry. For no mana extra it evades, hits for 6 and has a self preservation mechanism. To kill this you need two removal effects while they have less than 8 energy, of which one has to be instant. That makes this a royal pain to kill. It means you can safely make it as soon as you have six mana. You can get stalled out with chain removal spells on this. Each time you have to save it you are paying 6 mana comapred to the 1 for Aetherling. This likely more than makes up for the permanent +2 power and flying cost savings. I think this is rounded enough and proactive enough that it gives Aetherling a real run for its money as the premium blue finisher. The heavier control decks will favour the Aetherling but be happy enough with this. The more midrange decks will be much more into this than the slower Aetherling. This is even a decent source of energy should you have other uses for it.
The Implement Cycle
Lovely design although I am sad they are not all one drops. Both Malice and Examination are nice effects but too expensive to be worth using. The heavy upfront cost makes them far less useful for improvise and revolt or for that matter any of the artifact synergies from other sets like metalcraft and so on. All three of the one drops are super minor and not at all worth the mana. As such you have to really want the support and synergy these cards can offer to play them. I am certain decks that would want all three of these (not together!) exist but I doubt any of them are common enough or broad enough to be ones found in the drafting cube. A RDW deck with artifact synergy as well as some improvise and revolt cards may play the free face ping. It is card neatrual so if you can get two mana's worth of value from as just a one drop artifact then you are onto a winner. Just triggering the metalcraft once on a Galvanic Blast is near two mana's worth of value! Two life is more of a control thing and as such I imagine it won't see that much play. Two life isn't enough life when you need life and so you would probably play things like Chromatic Star in such decks if you really wanted cheap artifacts in play. Not unplayable but not impressively relevant. Lastly we have the green offering, Ferocity. This one likely has the largest impact of the one drops despite not being useful as a trick. There is so much synergy with +1/+1 counters that you can probably get two mana's worth of value from the effect making the overall card quite efficient. The concern I have for Implement of Ferocity is that green decks don't really care about artifact synergy. Perhaps there will be enough revolt stuff but as I already mentioned, if you are paying an extra mana on the various revolt cards yet spoiled then most of them start to suck.
Baral's Expertise 3
Hmm. Hard to know with this one. Five is a lot for a sorcery speed bounce card. Artifacts are not commonly great bounce targets either. Mostly they are cheap and can either be used right away or have EtB effects. Often you will want to use this to bounce just one or two things and that is super low value. Other times bouncing three things will not have much of an impact. I almost think there is more value in bouncing your own stuff with this! Certainly when you bounce all or most of their relevant things on curve with this and make something decent off the back of it then it is a complete beating. Situationally it is better than Crush of Tentacles but overall the Crush covers you far better and scales so much better into the late games. I think this is too narrow to be outstanding. Mystic Confluence is a good card but it has under performed. It has so much more utility than this and is just a bit lacking in ability to do what you need and by being rather costly to use. If the Confluence is only an OK cube card then this shouldn't have much chance. Beign such a new mecahnic and having such a massive potential upside I will very much be testing this in the drafting cube but my expectations are pretty low. You have to be bouncing two or more things for this to be better than Unsummon. Even at two you are paying a high price for a bonus free Unsummon. This seems like a poor card.
Baral, Chief of Compliance 6.5
Delicious! Easy to cast and a great statline for a dork like this. Sunscape Familiar is a go to for a lot of combo decks and this will do much the same for you and more without the need to splash. I think that this is enough card that any sort of midrange to control spell heavy deck will be happy to play it. Spell heavy decks are less common that ever before in cube and those that there are typically run a lot of one mana spells complete with a couple of two mana spells without any colourless in them. I think this needs to reduce about 10 things in your deck before this is good and that isn't loads of decks. Also the more you have the better and that will only really be combo decks that do very well on that front. The free loot on a counterspell is nice but not super relevant. The combo decks have less countermagic and all the spell heavy blue decks have loads of card quality already. It is not a loot you can rely on and so it won't help you much with fine tuning synergies. I am certainly not knocking a free loot but it is an infrequent and unreliable one so we need to manage our expectations! This will see a lot of love in cube, especially in some of the most busted decks. In a midrange drafting cube he may be a little narrow to last but that is more the state of the meta than the power of this bad boy. This is significantly better than Goblin Electromancer. An extra toughness is what you want and being easier to cast is huge too.
Hidden Stocks 5.5
I really like this. It is an enchantment that makes artifact creatures. This is a very diverse threat that can support a lot of synergies. It is also a sac outlet and a source of card quality. It can trigger itself with the sac outlet! It also makes guys right away, or can do, and as such is a lot better tempo than things like Bitterblossom, assuming you can satisfy the revolt. Being such an early play and being one that requires ongoing revolt triggers I don't think you can play this without being incredibly focused on supporting revolt. I think the card is good enough that it is worth doing but as to there being enough support within a drafting cube for it to be consistent I am rather less confident. Orzhov tokens is a strong cube archetype and this slots right in there. Being so versatile I can see this cropping up in a wider selection of decks than just a tokens one. Revolt being what it is I am concerned this card won't be broad enough for the drafting cube. It is a gold card as well after all. I will none the less be building several decks that utilize this when I get the chance!
Solemn Recruit 5.5
Hardly an exciting card but it is probably good enough. A 2/2 doublestrike is perfectly OK in white weenie, you have a lot of tools to scale with such a body very nicely. There are better cards but it is a very acceptable low end performance. As a three drop in such a deck I think you can expect to get the revolt trigger reasonably well and then you have a really scary threat. At that stage even if they do have a 4/4 you can likely just run in all your 2/1s and sit back with your Recruit and they won't block them because they can't afford for you to get another revolt trigger. This is one of those cards like Goblin Rabblemaster that baits out removal. Early on it can just represent such an oppressive amount of damage that it is a decent threat. Lacking in utility does make it a little less appealing than a lot of the other white three drops and so this will always be a pretty cuttable card in cube even if it is performing well enough.
Exquisite Archangel 6
Not actually that dissimilar to Platinum Angel. Both seven drop fliers that make you that much harder to kill. Overall I would say that this new offering actually does a better job of keeping you alive. Not being an artifact and having that extra toughness make this a little harder to kill and resetting your life total actually does put you back in the game. With Platinum Angel you have to work very hard to keep it in play else you die on the spot when you are past the "kept you alive" point and they kill it. Platinum lets you cling onto life a bit longer but it doesn't really put you back in the game. With this you just die, it goes away and you go back to 20. Against win conditions that don't attack your life total this is still generally at least a Time Walk. I assume poison just gets to state based effect double kill you but that is pretty much the least common way to lose in cube. For those who play Hearthstone this is like the Ice Block Reno Jackson combo all in one. There is obviously a lot more counterplay to this but then there is a lot more counterplay in magic. Mostly I see this getting the love in reanimate decks, particularly those with instant speed stuff like Sneak Attack and Corpse Dance style cards. I think this might be too soft to spot removal to be a strong control tool. That said the card has a lot to offer and will certainly be getting a bunch of testing. Being able to trigger it yourself makes this the best friend of cards like Necropotence and Yawgmoth's Bargain. Not sure if you can fit those together easily but the sentiment is there. A powerful effect indeed but bolted onto a very expensive vanilla flier.
Cogwork Assembler 3
Feldon of the Third Path was pretty much this in red. He was a little slower to use but so much cheaper than this that he was actually something you could expect to activate. He was pretty poor and so I expect this to be really poor. Sure, you can play it as filler in decks that macke huge amounts of colourless mana but there are likely better cards than this silly win more dork.
Renegade Wheelsmith 1
Good card but too fair for the cube.
Gifted Aetherborn 7.5
I am temped to wildly overrate this card simply because of how much black is gagging for it rather than how actually good the cards is. In practice the former is the more relevant in terms of playability but not quite as much in performace. Regardless of that it does mean that there is more chance the card gets outdated quickly and ceases to be that exciting. So, why is this so exciting? It is cheap, robust and serves a lot of roles very well. The black aggressive decks really lack substantial cheap cards. They are wide open to Arc Trail and Fire / Ice. This needs a proper 3 damage all on it to make it go away. This doesn't just die in combat to everything either. In fact most stuff just dies to it. It is a great race tool, it is hard to block, it provides life so as to fuel Dark Confidant and the like, it is a good source of devotion. It is arguably one of the best tempo two drops you can make and that is entirely what black lacked. You can happily play this in aggro or midrange. Even control decks may want this and that is not something you can say of many black dorks, almost none of the cheaper ones. Mono black could make a return to prominence in the cube with this set.
Hidden Herbalists 3.5
This is pretty much just a toned down Burning Tree Emissary. I expect this to see some play in modern, like along side the Emissary. For cube there is not enough call for free 2/2 humans, or at least not enough redundancy to abuse them. The revolt makes this a lot less good of a power out or support card as well in cube where it seems like it will be more effort to activate. There will be a place for this in a selection of constructed style cube decks but there is no place for this in a drafting cube.
Treasure Keeper 5.5
So this is a Matter Reshaper that will also do spells for you. I guess more accurately it is a Bloodbraid with an on death trigger rather than an on cast trigger. Gaining a toughness but losing haste is a bad trade but being a colourless artifact rather than a gold card makes the Keeper a whole lot more playable. I am not entirely sure where you play this, filler in some Daretti deck? Seems really good value though, not just a two for one but hopefully more than 4 manas worth of stuff too. The one issue is that value isn't typically what you want in cube for 4 mana, you want power to win with. Solemn Simulacrum is a rare example of a value four drop that has lasted and so there is some more hope for this.
Hope of Ghirapur 5
Too cheap and useful not too see play although this smacks more of a legacy card than anything else. It is a kind of one use Xantid Swarm that isn't quite such a do nothing body. For artifact based combo decks this will likely be one of the best ways to force through your combo. Robots in modern may pack a couple, likely mostly in the board, to be a semi Time Walk agasint certain decks. Not as good as things like Orim's Chant and Abeyance at disrupting storm as you have to preemptively do it and as such they don't waste any resources. Still, a one mana time walk is not to be complained at. For the drafting cube this doesn't have a broad enough range or enough of an impact. Most decks have dorks, few decks have obviously critical turns (except for the Wrath me now or lose situation that comes up now and again). In a draft setting this is going to be a lot worse than a Judge's Familiar and that wasn't doing enough to really deserve a cube slot. In a more contructed setting however this is a very powerful tool. Oddly it reminds me of Pithing Needle.
Life Crafter's Bestiary 2
Powerful effect but slow on top of slow. Pay three mana, then play a dork, then pay another G all just to draw a card. The ongoing scry is nice but again, it is very slow to do much of much. Best case scenario this is drawing you three cards in that many turns or less with a couple of scry for six mana! If you need value play more value dorks so as to not lose tempo or play some more direct card draw spells like Harmoize and at least concede less tempo...
Aethersphere Harvester 6.5
At least they are pushing a lot of cards in this new era of only being able to add pushed cards to the cube. This is a nice answer to Smugglers Copter at least! While certainly not as powerful it will keep the card in check in standard. This card is a bit of an odd one. Its stats and abilities make it very much on the midrange and control side of things. Sure, a 3 mana 3 power flying thing is good enough in aggro too but the higher toughness and lifelink would be more appealing as something else. None the less this is a well rounded card that any deck with a good expectation of having a dork to crew with will be happy to run. Any slower deck wanting to improve its game against aggressive decks will be even more keen to run this. The Harvester gives incredible board control, good threat diversification and good racing potential. The lifelink is interesting, I think you always just sink energy into it when you have it in cube as there is not much in the way of other uses for the energy. There are some more generic good energy cards floating around from Aether Revolt it would seem and this adding into that group will slightly improve all of them. A random Rogue Refiner will double up your lifelink hits. This looks like it compete with Heart of Kiran for the kinds of role you might want them in and all round I think the Harvester is the more playable and powerful of the two.
Heroic Intervention 5.5
One of the closest things to a green counterspell we have seen. This shuts down basically every removal spell and effect in cube other than Terminus, Toxic Deluge, Council's Judgement and edict and mass bounce effects. While that sounds like a lot of exemptions it really isn't. This thing does a fairly significant amount of what Negate does, especially when you are a green player. While Negate will stop a counterspell, a discard spell or a planeswalker as well as stopping a lot removal effects Heroic Intervention has additional applications itself. It is a bit of a combat trick. You can use it with your own mass removal. Although quite hefty at two cards and 6 mana I do rather like a one sided Armageddon. Blossoming Defence has been quite impressive in cube and so I have some hope for this however given how badly Benefactor's Draught seem to perform I am going to be cautious in my praise for this. Reactive cards are not something green loves.
Metallic Rebuke 4
Mana Leak for between 1 and 3 mana. Sounds pretty fair. While pretty awful without any ability to improvise this isn't unplayable. You may play this in such a situation if desperate. There are two issues with this card. One is that it is hardest to make this cheaper when you most need it to be cheap. The second is simply that this doesn't scale all that well. Being half the price of Mana Leak makes no odds when neither has any effect as can be the case late game! There may well be some good homes for this, artifact heavy combo or aggro decks that have a lot of non-mana producing cheap artifacts. For a drafting cube however this is too inconsistent and has too low an average performance power level. In principle I love the card though.
Ravenous Intruder 3
This is an intruder! Get off my Atog! Not sure I am that excited about redundancy in the Atog slot and I am literally never playing this instead of my sexy Antiquities Atog.
Heretical Thopterist 2
We already have far better mono coloured 2/2s that make a pair of Thopters in Pia and Kiran Nalaar and Whirler Rogue. Both those cards are pretty good but neither are insane. They both have strong utility which this doesn't, work better without support and have a wider range of archetypes than this for being mono. I can't get away from this potentially being a two mana card however and that makes me eager to try and abuse it. In the right sort of affinity style deck this could be a very powerful card indeed. All told I think there are more powerful things you can do than play this card when you put in the various support things for it. There are already so many insanely good cards that you really can abuse with the right support.