Sunday, 16 April 2017

Amonkhet Initial Review Part IX

Binding Mummy 0.5

Playable in a BW tribal zombies deck but not exactly exciting even there. Narrow to the point of probably not being worth talking about....

Bloodlust Inciter 4

I think red has too few non-haste creatures it wants to pair with this for the card to be worth including in a cube. It is the non-red colours that will want this effect most and RX decks typically want more powerful cards than this. I am actually going to test this out as it is very cheap and convenient and may well has some surprising applications I haven't fully considered. This probably fails the Reckless Charge test but it does have the one advantage over any other haste giver in that it can be online and ready to go for your turn two and won't incur an extra cost on your subsequent curve plays.

Time to Reflect 1

They really want a BW zombies archetype huh? This is the kind of thing you need a lot of before such a thing becomes viable but even when every creature you have is a zombie this still isn't in the top three black or white removal spells. Not really like black or white lack removal either. Good card but not great and severally gimped by being super narrow.

Lay Claim 2.5

While a lot better than Confiscate this is pricey to cycle and obscenely expensive to use. This will massively hurt how streamlined you can make your decks. I can think of loads of cards I would much rather have in my deck than this. I think a huge part of the issue is that stealing a thing for seven mana just isn't going to be enough of a swing to be worth it. Seven mana cards want to have massive impact in a lot of situations and Lay Claim just won't do that.

Embalmer's Tools 3

Cute card but ultimately too narrow for most cube uses. You can build around this to some extent but it probably isn't worth it unless it is a game winning combo rather than just value. I like how this can be used to power out your own synergies with self mill or turned on your opponent as an alternate win condition (in 40 cards decks at least).

Labyrinth Guardian 1

Too much of a 2/1 for 2 against too many cards. The embalm cost is too high for it to be a good tempo/value card and the body is too weak for it to be a good card! Tribal illusions.....?

Shadowstorm Vizier 4

This is a kind of Stormchaser Mage without the haste. Prowess is easier to support than this mechanic but this mechanic is significantly more abusive, especially in these colours. I expect it is very easy to set up one turn kills with cards like this and Psychatog should you want that to be a thing. I will test this out but I think being gold and needing support it will simply not see any play in drafts. In constructed decks it should see a bit more love but it is just a cheap filler dork a lot of the time rather than a bomb or key card.

Honored Crop Captian 6 (sort of)

Accorder Paladin returns to Boros with a lovely extra toughness. This is a very good card indeed. It is one of the most aggressive two drops out there and it has great synergy with how Boros aggressive decks typically function. Veteran Motorist is a little more stand alone good but it has significantly less upper potential than this. I am trying to keep narrow gold cards to a minimum so this and Veteran Motorist are likely too much to run both and so I might solve that conundrum by just playing neither! While easily powerful enough for any cube this is not so unreasonably powerful you have to play it and it is narrow to the point of probably being best if you don't.

Aven Wind Guide 3

I somewhat hate this card, it is narrow in function, narrow due to cost and low powered. That all said, if you have a deck comprised heavily of non-flying tokens this is a game ending card. A lot of the time you will literally win as soon as this hits play. This is too narrow for a drafting cube but if you construct a deck around it the card should perform well.

Stinging Shot 2

The cycle isn't cheap enough that you are happy to just throw this into any old deck blind just to hedge against fliers. This just doesn't have enough targets in the cube, there are less than 40 fliers in my cube of which more than half have more than 3 toughness. This is a good removal spell but it needs the right environment and that is very much not the current cube meta.

Initiates Comparison 0

I like this, mostly for the potential abuse with things like Cradle and Rofellos which in practice is magical cloud land thinking. Mostly this dies to everything in combat and doesn't do anything much. It isn't even great ramp as you have to use some pre combat and some post combat. Don't play this but do create more cards like this with a little more power and playability! I love the idea of the utility combined with the aggression.

Haze of Pollen 1

Because Lull is too good.... Despite being a downgrade on an unexciting card this is still playable in the decks that just love to Fog.

Blazing Volley 0

This is the cheapest way to do one damage to all their dorks. Usually the cheapest way to do a thing is pretty good in cube but 1 damage to creatures isn't doing enough against enough to be something you want to play regardless of cost.

Violent Impact 1

A four mana Pillage with cycling. Weak but not awful. I am not sure where you would play this ever, it is too pricey for good LD and generally just poor removal.

Pursue Glory 2

A four mana Trumpet Blast with cycling! If I was considering playing Trumpted Blast I would also consider this. The higher cost is a little less problematic with this card as it is either something you play and win with or something that does very little. Low power level card but suprisingly well suited to the role and archetypes you would play it in.

Nef-Crop Entangler 1

I think this is worse than cards like Gore-House Chainwalker although it is likely an upgrade on the Spectral Bears. When you are only just better than a creature card two decades old, from Homelands none the less, then things are not looking good. The quality of red two drops has risen a lot with this set and not at all due to this card, I suspect even if it ever was playable it entirely isn't now. I don't even think the exert synergy really helps this thing out in cube, there isn't enough to combine with it.

Ruthless Sniper 6.5

This seems pretty good to me which has me a little worried as these days only really pushed cards are good enough for the cube and they don't push commons or uncommons. To me this seems like a black take on Grim Lavamancer. Grim is better than this card but not by very much at all, they both have their perks and drawbacks, The Sniper is active right away and never need tap to use. This means you can use him as much as you have discards and mana and he can be saved as a surprise or used to simultaneously attack and shoot stuff. All his work remains unlike the damage of Lavamancer on creatures making him better against big things. This is a good black one drop that you can play outside of purely aggressive decks which is great in general and great for black which sorely lacks such things. You will need the support for this card but that is pretty easy to fulfill in black. This guy also has some cute interactions with counter based cards, mostly disruptive in removing your opponents +1/+1 counters but potentially something like resetting your own Geralf's Messengers.

Bone Picker 8

Wow. This is another lovely little gem to sneak into this set. This is the kind of card that will shine in the more powerful formats, including cube. In such formats speed is huge and speed is obtained by playing cheap cards. That means cheap cards that you can get a lot more out of than what you paid for them are good. This isn't a turn one play very often at all but it is a very relevant early play that you expect to be able to do alongside something else. I think this will significantly outperform Delver of Secrets in cube. Delver is obviously still the better card in formats where you can run four of the things to support it as it actually is a one drop you can make on turn one. The Bone Picker is a more powerful thing once in play and it is far less onerous on your deck to support it. You can certainly improve the value of the Bone Picker with cards like Cabal Therapy and Mogg Fanatic for cheap self sacrifice or you can just run a lot of cheap or pitch removal like Gut Shot or Snuff out. These things will make it more consistent but I think it is plenty good enough just to play when something dies in combat turn three or four. Flying and deathtouch are two of the best scaling abilities, the make smaller creatures far better and they help those dorks to remain relevant much longer into the game than most other key words. Black now has three powerful, useful and interesting one mana creatures from this set all of which are not purely aggressive cards. That should really really help the colour out and we should be seeing some more interesting black options in the future. I think despite red getting more and better cards than black in this set for cube that black will be the colour to be morst improved as a result of Amonkhet simply from the three one drops it is getting. The best thing about the black one drops is how refreshingly different and well designed they all are. None are obviously oppressively good like Deathrite Shaman nor are they linear like Gravecrawler. They make black a lot more playable but in a way that should also make it interesting.

Seeker of Insight 0

While 3 toughness on a looter is lovely you want your looter to loot most of all, that is why you are playing the thing. This is a bit hardier to removal and a bit better in combat but really so what? If it ever doesn't loot for you that is the nut low, you have Lumengrid Warden, good job.

Compelling Argument 1.5

This is cheap enough for the amount it mills to be just about playable. Mill is niche and not very fun or interactive so hopefully we wont see much of this.

Vizier of Remedies 3

This works very well with persist creatures of which there are a couple of pretty high power ones in cube. There are a couple of things it is OK against as well. With their only being a couple of things this works well with and also only a couple it works well against in my cube I think the effect on this card, while very cool, is simply not enough. Melira, Sylvok Outcast isn't main cube worthy and she is directly better than this. This will see play in versions of Merlia Pod, but that should be it.

Gust Walker 4

This is somewhat of another Daring Skyjek. A two drop that can hit in the air for three. The Gust Walker outputs less damage than Skyjek but it has significantly higher toughness. There are not loads of blockers where the extra toughness makes a big difference but there is plenty of burn and ping effects where it does. I like this card but it seems a bit too much on the fair side for cube use. The Skyjek has a slightly better best case scenario than this which I think keeps it ahead for cube contention presently. I will certainly give this a little try but my expectations are that it will not remains in my drafting cube long at all. It has a lot of the elements you want in a white aggressive card but it is just rather bland.

Devoted Crop-Mate 2

Good value, OK stats and relatively cheap. I don't think this is consistent enough or high enough tempo to be a great card. Best case scenario you make this on curve and get to attack with it and then put a two drop into play. That is decent tempo but not great as you are still paying 3 for a vanilla 3/2. I would say that is two manas worth of thing in play itself at bets so you have gained a net of one mana, sounds like tempo but the delay on getting that two drop and the fact your 3/2 is blank next turn actually makes it pretty sub par tempo unless your two drop is really unfair. This this to even work you need to have a thing killed or discarded. This is a messy card for sure. It is playable in a couple of places but it is somewhat off theme in all of them. Needing to attack to get the value from this card and being such a limp body is what does for it, you are not expecting this to have a long life expectancy!

Forsake the Worldly 5.5

This is a very interesting card indeed. Instant speed exile quality removal is amazing. Three mana is pricey but not utterly unreasonable. You somewhat expect to have to pay three these days for a playable card that hits artifacts or enchantments. You are super happy if you can use this on something and keep your Anguished Unmaking for a potential creature or planeswalker. Cycling two is also a little pricey but it is at least all colourless which makes this one of the most splashable cards going. Disenchant is a funny card, you play it in everything white when you know you have a couple of good targets in every matchup. The issue is you rarely know this and so Disenchant spends a lot more time in sideboards than anywhere else. This is far more main deckable than Disenchant. It is more of a cost to include that the cheap one mana cyclers but it is a very direct and effective card so it will often be worth it. The thing that might get this cut from cube is the new Cast Out which is broader in scope and less onerous to play in any given white deck due to its cost. Certainly with both Cast out and Forsake the Worldly combined with all whites previous removal white is very much the removal colour. A lot of the previous rounded white removal was awful (Oblivion Ring) or double white (Council's Judgement / Unexpectedly Absent) making it less worthwhile or less easy to splash respectively. The new offerings from this set greatly encourage a white splash to cover removal deficits in other colours. This is not a powerful card but it is a significant one. It brings new and valid options and is a welcome new card.

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