Monday, 26 June 2017

Hour of Devastation Initial Review Part V

Doomfall 6

So it looks like we are getting a cycle of these slightly over priced modal cards that offer good core effects from that colour. Hopefully it isn't just the Bolas colours although now I say that it feels quite plausible. Doomfall is low powered but feels playable for a number of reasons. This is an Edict / Coercion split card. While you can get both effects at one mana you can't get better versions of those effects than these for two mana so Doomfall is comparably overpriced to the rest of the cycle. What makes this stand out is how much these effects gain from having alternate uses. Both Edicts and Coercions are very very powerful but they are situational. Mana Leak and Impulse are less polar in their performance and also that much less situational. An Impulse is never dead and so sticking bonus modes on it gains you far less value. Supreme Will is unable to recoup the overpricing as it does not turn a high risk high reward into a low risk high reward one as is the Case for Doomfall. Supreme Will is still just a low risk low reward card like Impulse.

One of blacks big problems as a control colour is that it either wants removal cards or hand disruption effects depending on if it is playing against midrange, control, aggro or combo. Black is a bit clunky lacking in card filter and would often lose due to having the wrong balance of removal and discard. So often black finds itself in the late game with a couple of dead cards in hand and plenty of dead draws in the deck. Doomfall goes a really long way to solving those issues. It is rather like a supplement card. You shouldn't play this as your only removal or discard, if you don't disrupt effectively before turn three you are going to struggle in a lot of cases. You still want to have the Fatal Push or Inquisition of Kozilek on turn one as appropriate for the matchup. This will not be replacing those kinds of cards but it will be able to supplement your numbers of both while making your list more consistent rather than less consistent and more polar. Collective Brutality was a huge addition to black as it was the first good card that was removal or discard. Brutality has a lot of other things going for it and is a lot better than Doomfall but they are similar in what they bring to the table.

The fact that both halves exile the card in question is really what pushes this I feel. Exile is super powerful in the cube and greatly enhances the disruptive potential of this card. A sorcery speed Edict for three is super weak but the added exile makes it a chunk better. They will have to think much harder about what to kill or even play should they have an empty board. They can't just throw a Kitchen Finks under the bus and somewhat counter the Edict. Obviously lots of small tokens still counter the Edict pretty effectively but that is part of the reason Edicts are somewhat polar. Doomfall goes the little extra distance, not only dealing with hexproof and other untargetable threats but by also solving recursive threats well. The Coercion is also that bit scarier for the same reason. Lots of decks that rely on specific cards will have ways to recur those cards should they get dealt with. You might well survive your combo piece getting taken with a Thoughtsieze but you likely won't should this Doomfall find it. Without the exile this would feel somewhere about the power level of a Ruinous Path at best. With it however it seems closer to Hero's Downfall in power and desirability. Now all we need is mini Inqusition with cycling and Terror with cycling!

Torment of Venom 0

At half the price this still wouldn't be as good as Searing Blaze....

Torment of Scarabs 0

Far too slow to really come on line and crimp someones game.

Torment of Hailfire 1

I like this but that doesn't stop it being unplayable. This has a hope in standard where things might be slow enough to properly abuse this Torment mechanic. This card is certainly very powerful but only when you have really starved your opponent of resources or you have huge amounts of mana. Sadly those two things do not work hand in hand, typically if your opponent is being kept low on stuff so are you meaning you won't have loads of mana. Cards like Small Pox, even Thoughtsieze make that more likely. The first hits of this are pretty irrelevant, it is not until they only have high value permanents left in play, none or only high value cards in hand and low life that this gets good. Then it is much like a one sided Death Cloud. I guess you could try and Channel this out early and force a win that way! As soon as you pass that point of the choices not hurting or being that hard this card gets brutal. In the first couple of turns X = about 14 should be fatal!

Farm // Market 2

Cute card but over priced sufficiently to not make any waves in cube. There are the odd heavy synergy control decks where this might fit but it would be just an exercise in saving space in your deck. This is never much more than on theme filler and wouldn't even be that good in the vast majority of places. Farm is both weak and expensive removal by cube standards, it might have the back end of a Faithless Looting but it is gold and entirely lacking the front end of Faithless Looting. I think this has most chance of seeing play purely for it's Flashback part, perhaps even in a deck with no white. Just get this in the bin so you can have a pair of loots whenever you need them. I guess much like how Deep Analysis is played now. You have to really need discard though as again, this Doesn't Have the font end of Deep Anal. While both Farm and draw 2 for 4 mana are awful front ends the Deep Anal is at least the same colour and the same theme. Sometimes versatility is nice, like modal cards, these aftermath cards are often made too narrow for the extra power they might offer to be good enough for cube.

Struggle // Survive 2.5

This isn't drafting cube material as it is far too narrow. It is however something I can see having a place in the odd quirky control, combo or grind deck. Struggle is OK red removal for a non-aggressive player that has the rare perk of scaling up in power into the late game. Dealing with big things is an issue for red and one of the reasons you see it less in control and grindy decks, certainly as the only source of removal. Assuming you are both making lands drops this thing will kill an on curve Titan which is not something red does with one card ever really. Struggle is pretty awful in any deck that is aggressive and a large part of why this is very narrow.

Survive is a narrow and low value ability but it is absolutely something a number of strategies actively look for in single 40 card deck formats. Any slow strategy is at risk of decking itself and has to spread thin to ensure answers. Cards like Survive are massive when it comes to making the slower strategies work. What is so lovely about Survive is that you don't have to dedicate a card to reshuffle because you have a totally viable removal spell on the front end. There are also the combo applications for Survive as it is so easy to tutor things into your bin. Things like Oath of Druids incur self mill and so Survive can act as a good safety net. You either need red mana or a lot of discard effects to play this in such decks as you can't risk drawing it and it being dead which does again hurt it's playability. I expect to see this taking a few deck slots you may once have found a Krosan Reclamation, Gaea's Blessing, Bow of Nylea, Primal Command etc but that won't be exactly loads of play time..

Proven Combatant 0

Poor blue.

Sinuous Striker 0

No, not as a threat. Not as a value card, Not as a discard outlet.

Ammit Eternal 1

This seems far too gimped. I played Blind Creeper in block constructed and those things died a lot and they only got the shrinking until end of turn. In cube you could make this turn three on the play and easily untap with it as a 2/2. This is like Phyrexian Negator except rather than play it versus people who can't deal damage you play it against people who can't cast spells? The afflict is a nice design addition and makes for a more interesting card. It gives this a decent chance of at least being a Lava Spike before it dies, perhaps even a Searing Blaze! Problem is that this is just a big dork and big dorks are not that useful in cube. Those that have a drawback are even worse. A three mana 5/5 is OK, the afflict makes it good but I think the downside just makes it too high a risk for the level of reward you can get. Certainly a Phyrexian Negator has a much more savage drawback than this, Ammit Eternal will just put itself in the bin rather than a load of your other stuff as well. Paying three mana and a card to occasionally do nothing is still far too much of a risk in cube for potential upsides that are not much above the curve at all. This does have a lot of creature types. Crocodile is largely irrelevant but the others do give it a tiny bit more range. Overall I don't see myself ever playing this in cube but the card is a well designed one that could well lead to it performing fairly well in something like standard. I think people will play around this incorrectly and make it seem better than it is. I expect there will be a lot of occasions you can just ignore it. If you are applying pressure and doing a decent amount of stuff this will be like a 2/2 or 3/3 hitting you each turn which is super weak for the cost and incredibly easy to outpace in a race.

Refuse // Cooperate 1

The Refuse end of this card is very poor in cube. It is expensive and inconsistent face damage. Every now and again you will hit big with this and kill people but most of the time this will be a lot worse than a Fireball. Refuse is very bad, I wouldn't even play it in the sideboard against something casting huge spells as some kind of face deck. The only way this card is seeing play is as a Twincast that you play from the bin like Haakon, Strongald Scourge (not a good thing)! That means you can only play it in a list with loads and loads of discard effects. A 3 mana to flashback Twincast would be pretty good but as a card you can effectively only play from your graveyard it is a bit too much effort to make work. This would be vastly more playable if the Refuse portion was simply a blue mana with no text at all. Just blue to do nothing but put it in the bin, perhaps trigger some prowess! I don't feel like I can rule out a 3 mana Twincast you play from the bin due to some very niche combo potentials but this is both weak and narrow to say the least.

Overwhelming Splendor 1

What an awful card. I want to win the game when I pay this much not just ruin my opponents fun. This isn't even that good of a tool for staying alive. It is likely a royal pain and slows things down massively but it is a long way from ending the game. Despite this being a pretty laughable waste of 8 mana the fact that it is a white enchantment with some merit and such a high cost means there is a decent chance that certain kinds of enchantress deck would actually want this. Rector and Replenish effects can easily mitigate the ludicrous cost and then cards like Opalessence will take advantage of it. I hate this card and the fact that it might see some play.

Champion of Wits 8

Very interesting. This is a bit of a Sea Gate Oracle at first being a 2 manas worth vanilla body plus a one mana card quality effect. Lumengrid Warden plus Sleight of Hand is a good deal for the more defensive decks but it is quite a low impact card. Champion of Wits threatens to be much more relevant in combat with its extra power. Defensively it will trade with more and offensively it will be twice as relevant. Careful Study isn't as rounded as Sleight of Hand but it is far more powerful and far more synergic. The card disadvantage of the Careful Study is a problem for it in when not offering a lot of synergy however the 2/1 body on Champion of Wits may well be enough to make it playable in any old place. This is great when you have any graveyard synergies going on. Three mana is pretty slow for some combo lists but still totally fine. Cards like Liliana are commonly used as discard outlets and so I am sure Champion will too. Having a slightly slower outlet is better than not having one at all.

So, just as a 3 mana 2/1 that did a Careful Study I think this would be cube worthy but the Champion is rather more card than that. State based pump and I believe instant pump effects will enable you to draw bonus cards from the EtB ability. Assuming the latter works you can turn a Mutagenic Growth into a free Night's Whisper. While this won't happen loads it is a pretty big deal when it does. Something that can turn a Giant Growth into an Ancestral Recall is rather the eye opener. That is quite the upgrade in power which will see to a number of cards massively gaining incentive to be run when you have the Champion.

The eternalize is probably less relevant in cube than the fact that you can turn this into a card advantage tool with pump. That being said, the eternalize is very powerful as a second half of a card. If you look at card advantage creatures they are not actually that much better cost than this. Mul Drifter is the best of the bunch and it is only 2 cheaper. a 2/2 flier is generally worse than a 4/4 and draw two is a lot worse than draw 4 discard 2. It is the comparison to Phyrexian Gargantuan that really makes the eternalize on Champion of Wits seem impressive. This is so much card that it should almost automatically win any late game. If neither of you have much going on or are in a board stalemate digging for ways to break it then drawing 4 cards deep and getting a 4/4 body extra is just such a huge swing. Odds on they need to deal with the 4/4 and you will have totally refilled on gas. Just on its own this card is a 4 for 1 and a huge amount of card quality. For such insane value it has an incredibly suitable front end. It is a good way to gain card quality and potentially enable things without falling behind in tempo or cards. The front end also really supports your odds of getting to the eternalize. Having so much card quality and board presence for the mana combined into one card is the perfect way to ensure you win sooner or survive longer regardless of the matchup. The momentum you carry forwards into the late game from card quality (assuming you do it right) is pretty massive and makes that seven mana eternalize rather more realistic.

This card is plenty good when it is at the absolute floor of its capacity. It is still likely better than Sea Gate Oracle. The upsides on this card however blow most things out of the water. This has synergies all over the place and all sorts of late game action. Very much the new front runner for best card in the set. Lovely design and a welcome addition to cube. A very nice way to offer lots of power without being an oppressive card.

Unraveling Mummy 0

Not good enough for a tribal zombies deck and so utterly unplayable anywhere else. This isn't a bad card it is just a lot less good than a sufficiently large pool of cards that do the same sort of thing that it is a non starter in cube.

God-Pharaoh's Gift 1

This is basically a rejigged Mimic Vat. Rejigged in such a way to broadly be worse. This is more mana up front but has no ongoing cost. This can only do dorks once but has the option on any while Vat does the same dork over and over but can only do that one until you swap it over. The one big thing the Gift has over the Vat is that the tokens don't die at end of turn. That means you can build up a board over time with the Gift. The Gift also is less dependent on what is in the bin, just so long as you have dorks it is making 4/4s with haste which is better than the average dork in cube. For Vat to really shine it has to catch a Titan or something. Vat does have some disruptive potential and does work with your opponent's dorks but I still prefer lasting 4/4s from my things than copies of things. Certainly I would rather have a Gift in play than a Vat but that isn't a surprise give one is 3 mana and the other 7. Vat can be active on turn four while Gift is not until turn seven without ramp and without missing land drops. The front loading of cost for the Gift makes it too hard to play sadly. While it is only a mana more for the first trigger and actually two mana less on the second trigger the mere fact you need to have seven mana all in one go to get this online is too much. This would be an OK Tinker target if your deck was full of creatures which typically Tinker decks are not. Despite being very powerful and having some cute interactions with things I cannot think of any archetype in which this would work out well or any way to construct a deck around this card that wouldn't just be well under powered.

Appeal // Authority 0

Despite being cheap and unique this seems too poor and narrow for cube. I typically don't like to rule cards like this out entirely but this has so many issues. It is gold, it is sorcery speed pump and sorcery speed tap down. The pump is conditional. There is no deck I can imagine that would want the effect of just Authority in the way I can see a deck wanting only Market for example. Even if you could include Authority at no cost to the deck and reliably play it without incurring a card cost I don't think you would want it.

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