Thursday, 29 June 2017

Hour of Devastation Initial Review Part VII

Vizier of the Anointed 1

This is a cool card but it almost certainly has too few targets for it to be a thing. Without multiple blue targets that are already cube worthy in their own right this effectively becomes a gold card. We not only need to see some embalm or eternalize bombs but we need to see several of them before this has a chance in cube. This does have some cute synergies but I don't see it being enough to compete in the constructed areas of the cube either unless it winds up finding a combo piece. This has a tiny bit of the Stoneforge Mystic about it but it is obviously wildly fairer and less useful all round. This is more value than Stoneforge but finds weaker cards and offers less tempo.

Hour of Eternity 0

So this is like the bad casting mode on Entreat the Angels except you need things to exile from your bin and odds on these don't have flying! This card feels shocking. Its upward scaling into the late game is painfully slow. As a five mana card it has to hit something nuts like Akroma to be at all good value and even then not really. I see no way to abuse this and I see no place that wants it as it is.

Hazoret's Undying Fury 1

This is bad in cube even without the lands failing to untap. To be fair that aspect of the card isn't that bad. If you play this you really expect to win off it so really the lands not untapping shouldn't matter. What makes this card bad is what it does, which is really very little. Converted mana costs are low in cube, even in decks with more top end. Statistically this isn't making its mana back on average basically anywhere you might play it. Unless you mess about with Mana Severance (which, don't) this is hitting 2 or 3 things. It is never getting more than 5 mana back on any hit and is much more likely to fall on the one or two mana cards. There is very little you can do to set this up or build around it such that it does any thing with any real consistency. Doomsday leaving in Thundermaw, Stormbreath, Sarkhan Dragonspeaker, Gloryseeker and another hard hitting haste five drop I can't think of just now. That is your setup for this. Huge amounts of work, very unreliable, very risky and not even that hard of a win. This is a silly card and a bad one. It only doesn't get a 0 because of Doomsday and I am pretty sure that isn't a good combo...

Kefnet's Last Word 0

Well, the effect is doubly better than Control Magic. This cannot easily be undone with a Disenchant and it has a nice broad range on things it can steal. Sadly it is not enough better than Control Magic to come close to offsetting that lands not untapping drawback. The pricier the card the worse of a drawback it is unless it it winning you the game. This isn't winning the game on the spot very often and so the drawback is at its worst here in the cycle. The cycle is a very bad one on the whole but the others have some niche applications at least, this doesn't.

Merciless Eternal 0

I am not fooled by this Grey Ogre in fancy dress. This is far too pricey as a discard outlet and the afflict adds little to this card.

Eternal of Harsh Truths 0

Afflict 2 is not a good compensation for this getting blocked and killed. It isn't even great when they are just blocking with a wall and denying you a card. Sometimes this is a bit like a 3/3 trample (a bad one that only ever deals one to other creatures in combat), others times like an Ophidian. That might sound good on a 3 mana blue card but sadly this "modal" creature is one that gives all the choices to your opponent and as such is bad. Jhessian Thief is a lot better than this and that has seen play like once.

Frontline Devastator 0

Hill Giant in disguise! On theme at least despite being of limited power level only.

God-Pharaoh's Faithful 2

Unplayable conventionally but a pretty good Soul Warden in certain combo decks. The 4 toughness means this is just an upgrade to Soul Warden in Aluren Decks should they be playing white. I am sure this will find some other combo roles, perhaps even a defensive tool in a storm deck. Niche but pretty strong when used appropriately.

Bloodwater Entity 5

This is an interesting little card. This kind of thing generally does better in the cube than in other formats due to it being high powered and singleton. The nature of spells is generally quite specific. That often leads to you wanting the same one multiple times in certain matchups. This isn't card advantage like a Snapcaster Mage but it is card quality and utility. It also doesn't exile things it reuses which lets you resuse them more. This and a Kolaghn's Command could never end! It is good synergy if you are using it to flip a delver or set up a miracle too.

Body wise this is a chunk worse than Stormchaser Mage, prowess dorks favour a skew towards toughness and this has no haste and is a mana more! Stormchaser is pretty good, the thing sees legacy play which is always impressive. As such, this being comparable makes Bloodwater Entity fine at least. If you are very likely to get good value out of the EtB effect then this will be a strong card, if the EtB effect is minor or worse then this is a weak card but not a total flop. I can see this being desirable in a couple of places but ultimately it is made too narrow for the cube by being gold. Good drafting cubes are full of powerful cards that are widely playable. Bloodwater only ticks the former of those boxes.

Crested Sunmare 2

Not the first of the lifegain matters cards we have seen but certainly one of the most eye opening. If you lay this on a turn you gained or can gain life then this is a silly amount of stats for the mana. It is the white Verdurous Gearhulk or Wolfir Silverheart. It trades some of the initial swing potential for some indestructible tokens and the ability to carry on producing said tokens. On of the really extreme things about this is that the tokens trigger every end step so if you get the perfect conditions with this you can untap and attack with three 5/5s! An active Crested Sunmare is a terrifying thing and needs a swift answer or it will dominate the game. Sadly active is the key word here. This card is poo without reliable supporting lifegain. You don't want your top end to rely on support, that makes it incredibly narrow. This is certainly of the power level to merit building around it but as a five drop it is a pointless exercise unless you also have good synergies in your cheaper cards. As said, there are some other lifegains matters cards and some of those are cheap, some are even quite good! I will try such a themed deck at some stage but I think it needs some more good enablers and benefactors to see print. Crested Sunmare kind of power level but translated into much cheaper cards.

Leave // Chance 3

In the drafting cube this is quite expensive and does very little. Leave is situational and hard to take advantage of. Chance is great but very pricey for what it is doing making it too much to consider as an enabler in most cases. It is just a bit of late game gas which makes it compare very poorly to the flashback on Faithless Looting. Despite not being something you would ever want in any sort of conventional deck this does have some appications in combo decks. Things from the bin are good, looting is good and Leave actually does some things! I can see this working out well in artifact storm decks and Siesmic Assault decks. I am sure there are others too that would have a credible use for Leave. I am sure we will see this supporting combo decks now and again but that should be the only time we see this.

Majestic Myriach 1

Another rather silly card. This thing is pretty all over the place, any time anything happens this thing is going to grow or shrink or generally change its abilities making for a very confusing game state. While this does have a monumentally potent ceiling I fear it is far too poor on average to merit any sort of serious consideration. It is a five mana vanilla 2/2 worst case which is pretty damn disastrous! The two things that kill this cards chances are the fact that the abilities only trigger on combat. That makes lots of the really juicy ones pretty pointless. Indestructible and hexproof are not doing what you really want them to do for you on this card. This thing is very soft to a lot of removal. The other issue I see for this thing is that it is usually one or other in terms of things that scale with this. Decks either have lots of tokens and elves with no abilities or they have more potent dorks with key word abilities but never more than a couple in play. Ether this is just a huge but pointless vanilla dork or it is a small thing with a bunch of random and fleeting key words. I think this is more powerful than I give it credit for but I am generally averse to cards like this so expect some additional bias coming in against it.

Abandoned Sarcophagus 2

A very powerful build around card that has some strong potential in standard. Sadly it is inherently narrow and has no place in a drafting cube. It is just a source of value and so only really goes in control decks. The pool of cycling cards is generally too small for you to build a good control deck out of it in cube. You can just about make it work with Lightning Rift and those sorts of enchantments but then you are much more of a quirky deck than a conventional control deck. This still has some potential in that kind of a cycling themed deck but regardless, this is about as narrow a card as they come for cube.

Survivor's Encampment 3

Functional reprint with a desert tag. This further empowers inspire creatures and allows for decks themed that way. Not too powerful as a stand alone fixer still.

Tragic Lesson 6

Lovely. This does lots of very cool things and will have a fair amount of application in the cube. This is either card quality or card advantage depending on how you wish to use it. In this regard it is much like Thirst for Knowledge. While clearly a bit less potent than Thirst for Knowledge Tragic Lesson is a lot more playable and has no build clauses before you can maximize its value. Cheap instant draw is lovely and well rounded, I have always said I think an instant Council of the Soratami would be good in cube. While this isn't as good as that in power I think it is better in terms of overall utility. This can be used as a discard outlet. This can effectively only cost two mana when you lack lands, it can counter land disruption, it can reuse EtB effects on lands, it can fill your hand up with three cards (well, two extra) to empower various effects. Say you have excess lands late in the game and other sources of looting, perhaps bouncing a land is a way to get more gas down the line. While not the most potent card this earns a cube slot for being so convenient and useful. This is not a great control card as they so rarely want to bounce lands but it is still fine in a control deck if you are using it mostly as filtering. One way to think of this is that it is a cycler for 1.5 mana that turns another card in your hand into a cycler for the remaining 1.5 mana. Such things let you play potent early game cards like Force Spike more easily.

Life Goes On 2

Cheap, instant and fairly efficient. I don't advocate pure life gain cards but if I did I suspect this would be up there at the top with cards like Zuran Orb. Realistically this is just a potential sideboard tool against very aggressive burn decks and as such not very interesting and useful. Just nice to see lifegain getting pushed towards the point of viability.

Hour of Devastation 3

This is a five mana wrath that wont even kill things with 6 or more toughness or protection effects in addition to all the normal ways dorks evade wraths. This does also do good work on taking down planeswalkers at least. It is able to take out multiples and it doesn't hit you in the face either. Compared to the X spells this is a tiny bit more damage efficient for its cost however it is a very rigid card. The X spells like Earthquake simply got outclassed by creature power creep. They just couldn't ever kill stuff on curve. This has a better chance of doing that but is just dead weight before five mana while lacking any particularly good scaling past that point. This isn't good but it might be the only thing able to do this role at all effectively. Fated Retribution might kill things better and have instant capabilities but it is so much mana. This deals with a good spread of problems and conceivably does so in sufficient time for it to save the day. The unpowered cube is at least slowing down a little. I can see some Izzet control decks using this. Perhaps one day red midrange will be a thing and this might see some play there. Seems too narrow for the cube presently but one to watch for as red continues to get better long game cards.

Mummy Paramount 1

This is one of the more robust two drop zombies out there. I don't think many cube tribal zombie decks will dip into white but if they do this has a chance in such lists. Not only is it fine tempo early in those tribal decks but it also has some good burst potential with a selection of things. There are loads of ways to make a Patriarchs Bidding fatal but not loads of them are also fine cheap playables as well. This also isn't making the Bidding fatal on its own, it has to be able to attack and not get blocked or perhaps Flung at their face. All a bit of a stretch for this Bear.

Wretched Camel 1

So far the clear best deserts matters card and the best chance Ifnir Dreadlands has of seeing much play. Black has loads of 2 drop discard style dorks but none quite get it done in the way you want. Either the body is too low powered in effect or you can't get a two for one or make use of the weak body. Assuming you have a desert this is pretty spot on. It is a cheap disposable body that gains you value. It is annoying to play around and gets a decent amount of combat value with its two power. Still too few decent deserts for this to have a chance in a singleton format. You can't have your utility value filler failing to do those things and so this in unplayable without a massive desert count and that simply wont be viable.

Strategic Planning (bonus review!) 6

This is a card that has been about for a very very long time. It was massively exclusive until Commander 2013 but still wasn't any sort of mainstream card as a result of that. Giving this some time in standard and modern should allow it to shine and for people to appreciate it better. In many ways this is simply a sorcery speed anticipate which is relatively low powered. It is not until you are using the graveyard as a resource that this card starts to excel. When you can draw the action you want and put more action or fuel in the bin you are getting much more card. If you use the three cards for delve value then you have effectively gained a mana, a whole three mana better than Anticipate! It is like casting an Anticipate and a Grim Monolith (that can only provide mana for delve spells, and only once). If you find things with flashback or other recursive value then it is like you have drawn two cards, again, a very good deal on your two mana. See Beyond is a fairly low powered card quality spell but due to the value it has with certain things being in your library such as miracles and Tinker targets it is potent enough for cube use. Baseline the Planning and See Beyond are comparably low powered cards but their scaling potential is much greater than most. The graveyard is ever more a significant part of the cube and most decks use it to some extent. Strategic Planning is absolutely cube worthy and every set that passes seems to add to its value. Obviously Khans most but Amonkhet is certainly helping out a lot too.

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