Thursday, 20 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part XI

Charnel Troll 0.5

It's a trap! Certainly this is big and mean but it needs a lot of support. There are bigger and meaner beaters that needs support to work and most of those play well with others. Corpse Troll needs support and then eats that support so that it can't support others. Corpse Troll is very all in. It is also powerful but you have to be incredibly careful about what build you are putting him in. Very few, if any lists at all, will be suitable for Corpse Troll and some of those that might appear to be good homes will actually be the worst. Imagine investing five mana and two cards into this so as to have it attack as a 6/6 on turn three or four only to eat a removal spell. Go for the Throat becomes a Time Stretch.

Citywide Bust 0.5

The other Retribution of the Meek. Citywide Bust is likely the better aggressive tool as aggressive decks fear toughness more than power and play power over toughness themselves. That being said, what aggressive deck is going to play 3 mana sorcery speed situational removal? This will frequently not do what you need, far more often than you will get a two for one or better with it. So, even though this is probably more suitable than Retribution it will see as much play, which is none. If I am really going to put Wrath effects in my aggressive decks I am likely going to try and make Dusk // Dawn work as it offers so much more. I have only talked about aggressive lists because no sane person is playing these partial Wrath effect cards in a white control deck when you have actual Wraths at four and things like Wingshards at three. Especially ones that only hit bigger dorks. A partial Wrath for a control deck would hit small stuff if it was good, like Pyroclasm.

Risk Factor 4

I like this a lot! I have always liked Browbeat and this is better. Now in this case like and good are very different things. Very few punisher cards are good and Browbeat wasn't really one of those. It was played but infrequently if I recall. Basically although both 5 damage and 3 cards were amazing returns on your 3 mana it was always a bit of a Meditate. Obviously you didn't skip your next turn but as a burn deck spending a turn to draw 3 instead of doing damage was akin to skipping your turn. Things were often a straight race with far less interaction and so by not doing damage with 3 mana and a card you were giving your opponent the chance to win. Browbeat efficiently did what you didn't want it to in an unhelpful way! Now games are more interactive, you have more stalls, more outs and there is just a lot more going on. I can imagine Browbeat being better than it once was. Risk Factor being better than Browbeat has a real chance at being playable in the current state of play. 4 damage at 3 mana is still an OK return, it is very efficient on cards and not the worst in mana efficiency. Instant is a big deal and jump-start is huge. If you are on 8 life and I have this in my hand it is going to be bad for you! I am getting 3 new cards, perhaps 6. It is just so much that is forces the issue. Discarding this to a Faithless Looting or Tormenting Voice early will be really great as well. That option to convert a dud into 3 new cards or 4 damage at any time will be great. Kind of like having both a Firebolt and a Faithless Looting in the bin and although your opponent gets to pick which one they play the significantly greater power offsets that rather. It means in a lot of cases you will know what you are going to get. The worst thing I have to say about this card is that it is linear, you only play it in face red decks and it only really offers you one way to threaten. When you need a creature or planeswalker to eat the burn you will regret playing Risk Factor. I think it will be this narrowness of purpose combined with relatively high cost compared to the good cards with the same purpose that sees this not performing in cube. This is no Lava Spike! Too powerful not to test but I am not expecting great things. You cannot play this in midrange decks, you always have to have that face damage be relevant and uncomfortable. Much as this looks good I think that unless you are using the discard outlet potential from the Jump-Start on Risk Factor that any list containing it will be able to made more consistent and streamlined without it in them.

Light of the Legion 0

Rubbish. It might have quite a lot of power but it is all in places that don't work well on the card, be that for cost or theme reasons.

Beamsplitter Mage 1

Far too narrow for most drafting cubes but some potential in a finely crafted Kiln-Fiend style deck. If you have enough things that buff dorks then this starts to look like good value. Things like Shadow Rift and Slip Through Space are my personal favourites but Titan's Strength and the like should also pack a big punch. Become Immense could be game ending. Needing this and another dorks and good creature buffs makes it all feel a big magic cloud land and a bit win more but there is too much potential for me to disregard the Mage.

Mnemonic Betrayal 1

This is basically Yawmoth's Will for their yard rather than yours. Is that somehow better? No, not at all. Gonti using your opponents cards is better because he allows for the card to be played later. When Will is good it is because you are packing loads of cards open to abuse like Dark Ritual, Black Lotus, perhaps just Petals, whatever it is you have tailored your deck around having Will be nuts. If you just throw Will into a midrange deck you quickly see how bad it is compared to Eternal Witness. You rarely get a two for one with it and you rarely get value what with anything you do having to come after the three mana for nothing in playing the Will. So, Betrayal is just going to be Will when used badly. It is going to get you one very overpriced card most of the time and really blow. Sometimes it will get you a couple of overpriced cards. If you can somehow make a Dimir deck that gets well into double figures of mana then this would be a good addition but with normals levels of mana this will be painfully weak.

Electrostatic Field 4

This is just a bad Thermo-Alchemist. You gain a toughness but you lose damage output. After summoning sickness subsides Alchemist is doing one per turn regardless which Field fails to do. If you do nothing so does your Field. While this is probably too low powered for the drafting cube it is probably still potent enough to be worth running in any deck built to abuse the cards with triggers like these. They have proven to be some of the best red and Izzet aggressive strategies. So much so that this might well actually last in cube, key support cards for strong archetypes can get away with being well below the curve. This might be a weak card, power level wise it shouldn't make the cube but it might well do so due to the meta and if it does it likely has a more pronounced effect on the meta than most other cards manage.

Tajic, Legion's Edge 6.5

Power wise this guy is pretty far pushed. Three different positive things on a card is usually when that card has too much to ignore for cube and this fellow has four things! A 3/2 haste is nearly playable. First strike potential on a high power creature is a win. Mentor on a high powered haste dork means Tajic is more often than not providing four power extra on an attack right away. That is huge. Tajic is an outstanding mentor dork. His damage protection ability is the hardest to gauge of the four but given that Tajic is already pretty tasty before we even get to that I am not overly worried. I think Boros will have a much greater pull to it with new Aurelia and other sauce from the set and that will afford Tajic enough opportunity to see play which is all he needs to perform. Tajic is very much a card where power is not the issue! So anyway, how good do I think the damage protection is? Fairly low impact but not irrelevant I would say. It means Tajic is just the first thing to die to damage based removal which is probably what would happen anyway. If you can Shock an aggressive three drop to death you feel great about it. the ability will be utterly filthy in combination with Mother of Runes against some decks. Unfairly so. It is not just red burn Tajic protects from, there is damage all over the place in small amounts. Plenty on artifacts, some on planeswalkers, some on fight effects, some getting redirected. Most colours do have the ability to deal damage to creatures. It is a significantly worse version of what Shalia, Voice of Plenty does, which is usually just a bit of inconvenience but sometimes game breaking. With Shalia the inconvenience she offers is enough to carry her well into the ranks of playable. If Tajic is even a tenth as good in that area (which is probably a reasonable estimate for what it will be) then it will be a decent boost to the power of the card overall. Tajic is just a very solid, rounded, high power level on theme beater. He will even typically leave some residual value in the form of +1/+1 counters once dead and gone. A lot more card than Ahn-Crop Crasher which itself is a good and playable little beater.

Flower // Flourish 1

This is a bit low power in either mode. Much as I love a one mana find a land card this is a whole lot worse than too many other cards doing that. You have to actively want the top end for this card to appeal. If you want some low end fixing and thinning there are many better alternatives in both green and white sufficient that this shouldn't ever come up on a radar purely for Flower. The only decks that would want Flourish are token decks but at 20% more to cast than Overrun arguably doing under half the work I can't really see that being exciting. As such, you need to have a tokens deck that needs a half land card and a little bit more reach at the top end. This is playable as a piece of fine tuning in one specific archetype. An unfortunate place to be if you want to see a lot of action. Marginal, low powered and narrow cards mostly gather dust.

Experimental Frenzy 5

So this is a red Future Sight that costs one less. It does have a downside but it seems like it has more upside. Red is a far better colour for this effect than blue. This is potentially quite a legitimate card draw tool for some burn lists. With a low enough curve you are only going to be limited by seeing lands too often. That can be mitigated fairly easily with shuffle effects, draw effects and specific cards like Divining Top. You can even pair this with green cards and use extra land drop mechanics to really milk this for value. Nothing sounds more juicy than having this in play and a library full to the brim with Shocks and Bolts! Probably yet another one too narrow for the drafting cube but close enough and cool enough that it is absolutely getting an extended trial period in which to prove itself.

Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part X

Hatchery Spider 0

This seems like a bad Genesis Hydra and Genesis Hydra has never been accused of being good. This only does green things and it always costs loads while not always having a large X. Inflexible, random, needy, very bad.

Wand of Vertebrae 1

I significantly prefer both Perpetual Timepiece and Codex Shredder to this. I don't even really see a situation where redundancy in these effects will be useful. I am not convinced this is powerful enough self mill to be worth using as such and it certainly isn't being used solely on the merits of the reshuffle. Despite my inability to find a use for this it is still a cheap and versatile tool that does a thing, I am sure this will get used somewhere. Most likely in standard Dimir decks...

Unmoored Ego 0

No cube application, well certainly not in singleton. Quite a well designed iteration of this style of card otherwise, I suspect we will see some of this in modern given that it actually handles some of the key cards such things need to hit to have a broad enough appeal and a strong enough effect.

Thousand-Year Storm 1

Lots of effect but also lots of mana. This feels very much like overkill. If your storm style combo deck can get to six mana it can probably find a more contained way of exploding, or even just winning. I infrequently play both of Mind's Desire and Time Spiral and I don't feel like I would play Storm over either of those. Despite that this card is just too powerful to fully overlook. I will certainly have a go at abusing this! Can't pass up a chance at those turn one wins even if they have comic odds. For this you need to go; land, Rite of Flame, Desperate Ritual, Pyretic Ritual, Seething Song, Manamorphose, Thousand-Year Storm, one mana 3 damage red spell, copy it six more times and do 21 total damage!

Divine Visitation 0.5

While this is pretty cool I am not sure it is very useful. It is somewhat too much. Obviously you can only play this in a list that has an abundance of tokens which means it will be a token deck. They should be winning with one or two global pump effects and going wide, or with a Hellrider and a Goblin Bombardment to convert those tokens into damage, that kind of thing. Visitation offers no perks for tokens already in play, only value to subsequent ones. It is also painfully slow. Make it, then make tokens, then wait a turn to attack with your team of flying angels. It is so powerful it makes previous anthem and pump effects pretty wasted but you can't really just replace the Anthems and pump with this because what if you don't see this or it is dealt with? It is too much power concentrated in one card. A two or there mana version of this that turned tokens into 2/2 fliers would have been very interesting but this well overshoots. Much like the long Storm before it, Visitation is too powerful to fully overlook but I am not even going to bother trying to break this myself.

Haazda Marshal 7

This is exactly the sort of tool white aggressive decks crave. The lower they can make their curve the happier they are. Marshal lets them do that, likely filling the role of Precinct Captain, in addition or as a replacement. There are not many one drops that help as much as Marshal with going wide aggressively. As a one drop Marshall is pretty poor as you are almost never attacking with three the following turn. As a turn two or three play however Marshal stands to get those triggers pretty easily. Unlike Captain you don't even have to connect, just attack! Getting value from Marshal will not be too hard as a result. Playing it alongside combat tricks will make it terrifying as well. It is a narrow card, only aggressive white decks want it. It is also a little bit win more, about as much as a one mana dork can be! That all being said I still think this will get plenty of cube attention. Being so cheap the risk of playing a card like this compared to something a bit more stand alone like Savannah Lions is minimal yet the upside is potentially vast. Marshal is just on theme for white aggression in every way. It is a cheap body that can make more bodies. It has outstanding scaling with buffs both personal and global, tricks, removal, other battalion style cards. Basically the totally of what white does other than Wrath of God! Great little card. Making two tokens doesn't feel that unlikely and at that point you are going to be hard pressed to find a better value one drop. That is pretty much three mana worth of card. One token will be your expected minimum. Less than that means you drew removal and there are not that many one drops capable of drawing removal. They are all big names like Deathrite, Delver, Grim, Mother. Few of them are aggressive either. In cube I anticipate this outclassing Delver of Secrets. The white weenie dream of being able to play sixteen good one drops is basically now upon us. Slower decks are going to need to pack those Plague Mares and Ratchet Bombs else they are going to just get murdered by the aggro white deck.

Gird for Battle 3.5

Cheap, direct and high power. This is as cheap as it can be and it does precisely one thing and it does it better than other cards. Other examples of such thing include Lightning Bolt and Ancestral Recall! Now, I am not for one minute suggesting this is even close to those things. I just highlighting that most cards that fit the same description of being the cheapest and best cards to do one thing see play. For +1/+1 counter themed decks this is almost certainly going to be too good to pass up on. Those are typically green and not often white though. This means this has to trump or join Travel Preparations. Outside of counter themed decks I am less convinced of this cards potential. Certainly other narrow builds like heroic will want this cheap powerful double targetting one drop. Gird for Battle is quite a lot of tempo but it is also narrow and vulnerable. You need two dorks in play to have it afford enough value, ideally with some scaling potential themselves, be it a key word or whatever. You then need to have those things survive a bit with their counter on them. I don't see white weenie going for a card like this in much the same way you don't see many red decks running Reckless Charge when they can just run cards that work by themselves instead. To use the same analytic technique used on Marshal, the risk of playing Gird for Battle compared to Savannah Lions is significant. Certainly the payoff is still greater in potential than Lions but not by as much as the Marshal. Who wan'ts to take higher risks for lower potential return? That being said, Marshal is a card you want to Gird, as are his tokens! In turn, that being said, you really don't want to reduce your cheap dork count when you are playing Marshal as then you will miss token generation triggers and that is far from ideal.

Etrata, the Silencer 5

I really have no idea what to make of this thing. At first I missed the reshuffling herself component and obviously thought she was off the charts good. Now I just don't know where I stand on this at all. Etrata is certainly fascinating. She is like a card that is part defender and part "Seal of" where she is functionally a 3/5 wall or a very slow Unlicenced Disintigration. Is a four mana Seal of Unlicenced Disintigration good? Not really. Even with exile and no need of artifacts it still isn't exciting. I would much rather just pack Vraska's Contempt. Etrata is also much worse than Seal of Unlicensed Disintegration would be too as it takes a turn to come online, can be countered with removal in that time frame and still only operates at sorcery speed once combat damage is resolved. That last bit means you are waiting two more turns to force through attackers with Etrata than other removal. So what perks does Etrata have in her 3/5 wall mode? Certainly it is plenty of control. Five toughness is a lot at four mana and three power deals with most things. Etrata in play should prevent a lot of good things from being cast. Not just creatures either, I think planeswalker control is the most likely thing to carry Etrata in cube. A 3/5 black gold defender really helps keep your own walkers alive and a 3/5 unblockable is about as good as it gets at taking out opposing walkers. Unless their walker can instantly take out Etrata they are probably not playing it. If you were really keen you could even build around the win the game mode but that is going to be a little far fetched. The deck would need things to give haste, things to repeatedly tutor Etrata, things to protect her and things to protect you while doing all this crap! After all that you need your opponent to need to play dorks to win else they can just stop you winning. Or you could just win with 7x draw, cast and attack with Etrata like the worst Rift Bolt of all time. So yeah, the win the game is fun but not competitive. It will win a game here and there but it adds fairly little value to the card. I suspect more value in people missplaying against it than anything else! So with all this in mind how good is Etrata? She is a bad threat and she is bad removal and those are the two intuitive things she does and as such make her look very poor. If you consider her more as a modal card with a lot of defensive utility, lots of options and lots of control while also providing some degree of inevitability then I like her significantly more. All told I feel like Hostage Taker is just a better card with a lot of overlap and thus likely won't get much of a look in. That being said I think I prefer the design on this and prefer it's more even potency. Often you have to run out a turn four Hostage Taker and in those games it is always a loss if they have removal for it and often a win if they don't. Cards that all in are not great for game play and Etrata sidesteps that issue wonderfully. This could be quite nasty in standard where you can run a full four and enjoy a much better chance of reaching that win the game tally of hits. Certainly one to try in cube but as ever with the gold cards of reasonable CMC and up, I do not hold out much hope.

Kraul Harpooner 5.5

Well this is just a lot of power in one card. The undergrowth matters very little, you still get a 3/2 reach for 2 and a fight with a flier. That means you can take out anything upto a 1/3 in size without any thing in the bin and without losing your dork. With not much extra help you can trade with most of the premium fliers in magic. Harpooner is a good answer card and an OK dork. That is the biggest problem Harpooner has, if you play him as a two drop then he isn't answering fliers but if you hold him back he is just as narrow as Wallop and affords no value as a two drop curve play. One thing I like about Harpooner is that you can just give him haste and exploit the undergrowth element without need of fighting against fliers. So despite the high power and the high utility of this card I am not sure it is going to be all that impressive. It is just a bit aimless. Aggressive  green decks power through fliers, defensive ones really don't want 3/2 two drops that don't afford card advantage. I think this won't see much play and I expect to cut it which is quite rare for a card with such a low cost and high power level. I hope it proves me wrong, green could really use some more general anti flier cards like this.

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part IX

Disinformation Campaign 2.5

I rather like this. While it is low powered and fairly hard to abuse with surveil I think it is rather more easily abused with other things. Flicker effects go very nicely with the Campaign as do some enchantment synergies. Neither are super powerful combos but they are generally useful and have a good high floor on them. I expect to make use of this card in a couple of decks, all of which unusual and all tuned constructed decks. For general use in cube this is too fair for a three mana card of a gold card.

Lotleth Giant 1

Mostly all this does is make the haste undergrowth elf revealed earlier much less playable. Now if you are going to mill your whole deck of dorks and recur something it is going to be this before the elf. Sounds like a dodgy combo but certainly a fun one!

Piston-Fist Cyclops 0

Wow, even blue isn't so deprived of big cheap dorks to need something this weak.

"Sprouting Renewal" 1

I want to like this but it really needed to be instant to be a cube staple. The threat of free spells at sorcery is minimal. You need to be convoking this down to one mana before it is good value and it offers no trickery. A 2/2 token is pretty low value to most decks at most times, certainly not worth a card without instant speed. I just can't see why you would ever play this over a 2 for 1 Naturalize or an instant one. The simple switch to instant however would make this not far off the green Abrade.

Join Shields  0

It really looks as if they forgot to put convoke on this, it is just terrible compared to alternatives.

Assurance // Association 6.5

Assurance isn't a bargain for what it does but it isn't overpriced either. It is a bit of a combat trick and a bit of a Counterspell and it leaves a nice residual +1/+1 counter. I expect it will look a lot like Dromoka's Command a lot of the time you use it and that is no bad thing. Although both Counterspell and combat trick modes are situational having those two applications does significantly reduce the overall situational nature of Assurance. Assurance is a good cheap mode(s) to have on a card and needs very little from Association to be playable. Turns out Association isn't that far off playable itself. Being able to put 6/6 worth of stats into play at instant speed is great. Having them spread over three bodies with vigilance is usually much better too. Association is a high threat level of card with a surprising amount of game ending potential. It has outstanding synergy and scaling with loads of green and white stuff too. There seem to be loads of cards in this set that are made or broken by the instant or sorcery text. Association would be so much poorer if you couldn't run it out at EoT. Overall the card would remain playable but only just while with it being instant the card is rather exciting.

Beacon of Lightning 0

The power level of the jump-start cards is worryingly low. This might not even be great in booster draft, that is how low powered this is.

"Thief of Sanity" 4

The parallels between this and Nightveil Specter are going to go deep. Really hard to call the difference between the two not just in power terms but also playability. Thief might not be more playable in practice but in theory it certainly has way more potential colour pairings it could realistically see play in. Both are 3 mana, 2 power fliers fairly heavily tied to Dimir colours. Both offer potential disruption in exile mill and card advantage upon combat damage to players. Nightveil has 3 toughness over two and offers impressive devotion support often getting it action in decks using cards like Nykthos. Thief however offers far better disruption and potential returns. Thief of Sanity offers pretty much a Gonti trigger on contact and that is a seriously powerful effect. Far far better than drawing a card. The cards Thief steals can be played well after Thief is dead and gone and they will be generally very good quality cards. Choosing from three and using your opponents cards against them both add a fair chunk to the value and then you have the milling and exiling disruptive affects that also add to the overall value, if not by quite as much. Nightveil can get lands but then it usually needs to in order to do much else. The average value from Nightveil is typically around a third of a land per hit. It almost never gets to cast spells unless they are in the same colours. Thief of Sanity on the other hand should pretty consistently gain that +1 card advantage per hit and good cards! Much as I love the effect this has I am very wary of a 3 mana, gold, 2 toughness dork that has to connect to get value even if it does have flying. I think if you can protect this and yourself well enough (Spellskite much?) then it can be insanely powerful but I am not sure that is the norm by a long way. I suspect the norm is this eating Firebolt, staring down a pair of spirit/thopter tokens, running into a surprise flash flier or simply trading with a small threat due to being under too much pressure. I want this card to be good but the low toughness is such a huge warning light. I will test it because of its potential but I am not confidant of it being enough.

Chance at Glory 0

This is a bit of a shocker. Cards that protect against removal are situational to begin with. When you slap "win in one more turn or lose" on them then you push that situational nature through the roof. Final Fortune has never performed well in cube. Making all your dorks indestructible has only been good when it is a mode or ability on a card that does other good things, and I might add, that costs 2 or less.

Justice Strike 0

This has a 75% kill rate at best in my cube which is a long old way from playable. This needs to compare to Terminate and it fails to compare well against Doom Blade. It feels like there should be some tech uses for this but I can't think of any.

"Worldsoul Colossus" 0

A big fat do nothing. Not much of a threat and neither value or efficiency at any point.

Discovery // Dispersal 6.5

So what we have here is a Preordain in black. That is most of what I see and I think even at two mana I am quite into that. Blue is not into it having so many better options but black might well go for this with so little in the way of other general card quality. Dispersal feels pretty bad at five mana but I think that is OK with Discovery being so cheap and playable. Dispersal is basically a Recoil that costs nearly twice as much and which cannot always target what you want. Generally it will hit the best thing but not always. Really bad against Colonnade. Sometimes not targetting will be a help but I suspect less than it will be a hindrance. Despite how bad Dispersal is it is an out and an instant speed one for one out so it will be a good thing to pair with the Preordain mode. I think Dispersal is sufficiently low powered and blue is very much not bothered by Discovery that we can almost consider this a black card. It is a bit of a shame that it is the best black tool to setup Dark Confidant yet you really don't want to run them in the same deck as seven is a lot of life to lose, especially for the privilege of a two mana Preordain. Still, nice to finally see some card quality in black that isn't a tutor.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part VIII

Hunted Witness 4

Sacred Cat meets Doomed Traveler. Both of those cards get some mild play in the appropriate type of token themed lists and so will this. Doomed Traveler is certainly better than this but the key words are fairly minor, it is all about the two bodies in one on the cheap. As yet these cards are not performing in my drafting cube but the way it is going it is only a matter of time! Everything is getting lower and wider and that is what this does best.

Swiftblade Vindicator 2

I'm not sure I rate this above the original Boros Swiftblade. One toughness is low and dangerous, especially for a card you plan to be investing in. You don't play doublestrike unless you have some synergies with it. If you are doing that then most of what you care about on your doublestrike dude is survivability. Vigilance and trample don't do that. So yeah, this is narrow and probably not even all that good. Nice with mentor but still not better than alternatives. Perhaps this does allow for a doublestrike themed deck?! Sounds worse than a normal aggressive deck...

"Detour" 1

I sense more Maze's End decks in my future. Beyond that I doubt this will see any love given Explosive Vegitation is yet to make an appearance in my cube. That may not sound too damning so to put in in more context: Lagonna-Band Trailblazer has seen play in two decidedly different decks in the last month in my cube!

Omnispell Adept 1

It is pretty hard to save mana with this, your are eight down already by the time you play your spell which leaves very few spells indeed that this is a saving for. Sure, repeat uses will save some mana over time but that is not what cards like this are really for and that is basically why I don't think it has any real chance. It is hard to fully rule out any cards in magic, especially those which cheat mana costs, and so I won't in this case. Never the less I think this is pretty terrible for cube being too slow and vulnerable. Probably great in EDH though!

Connive // Concoct 4

I think this card is great in a Reanimate deck and even better in a cube supporting Reanimate themes. It is a great tool for empowering a combo being both an answer card or a combo piece. If your cube doesn't have those really tasty 7 and 8 drop dorks and good ways to get them in the bin then this probably isn't quite there for a draft cube. Connive is a great situational mode to have on a card but it needs something that is always playable to support it and Concoct is not quite there without a reliable good target in the bin. Sometimes getting back that 3 drop will be what you need but mostly you want access to game changing top end and outside of reanimate decks and green ramp decks you just don't get that density of fatties. I like how this will let you flip and recur an original Eldrazi before it reshuffles and that could well get it some play in other forms of cheat in deck like Sneak and Show or Oath. Nice card that will see plenty of non-draft play and one I will certainly give a chance to perform in the drafting cube despite expecting it to fail with my current setup.

Ritual of Soot 1

Consume the Meek for one less but at sorcery and allowing for regeneration! I don't think this is going to make any waves what with Consume having done so little. I see Ritual of Soot as an overpriced Infest much more than a Wrath of God. Black has plenty of good tools for dealing with little chaff dorks and it can do it cheaper. There is merit to Smothering everything at instant speed what with things like manlands but Ritual of Soot is of no help there. Languish does a much better job than this and that isn't really enough either. I give this a one solely because you can make it pretty one sided with delve, convoke and affinity cards able to dodge it. Likely not a great plan but nice that there is now decent redundancy for such things.

Creeping Chill 3

Very interesting indeed! A Narcomoeba effect card but in spell form. Now this is clearly terrible to cast and thus terrible to draw and have in your hand. It is also pretty awful of an effect to run in a deck that isn't aggressively threatening life totals or using life as a payment. All told this card is supremely narrow. That being said it is also very potent in that it is a free 6 point life swing, a Lightning Helix to the face, for zero mana and zero cards when you mill it. Your typical return for a zero mana zero card effect is looking at a card somewhere. Stuff you can get for free can be worth building around! I expect to be seeing this in several places, both in cube and out of it. This will be great with Doom Whsiperer, it will let you carry on milling! It feels like it effectively Forks itself too should you play it from your library with a card like Future Sight. I forget the name of the one from Dominaria that is standard legal and care too little to look it up for the reference! It does feel like there is going to be some kind of Dimir self mill deck in standard with the tools it is getting. If it can mill the whole deck easily then you can pretty much just win with the Chills and the Narcomoebas. In cube this is just going to be a bit of nice filler in self mill lists, there is a long way of enough cards like this for that to be your main plan.

Trostani Discordant 2

Very powerful and flavourful. My concern with this is that it doesn't add anything new to the picture. It is just more bodies and more buffs. If you want buffs you should be playing Dictate of Heliod or Gavony Township or many other cards on a long list of more efficient tools. If you want a one man army then there are a lot of comparable cards that are mono coloured and thus afford a lot more play potential. Angel of Invention springs to mind as does Regal Caracal, Ishkana, even Cloudgoat Ranger. While not all these cards offer more stats than Trostani they do all offer more playability and often also more reach or option density. The Brooding Suarion mode is a nice perk but it will come up fairly infrequently. Trostani doesn't save you from burn or from fliers or from Wraths. She isn't reach or card advantage. Certainly powerful but not in the right ways for a gold five drop.

"Maximize Velocity" 4

Stupid spoiler got me excited with this being instant but alas it is a far less exciting sorcery. Despite that nerf the card still has a lot of potential. Too niche and low key to be a great drafting cube card but I suspect many a constructed deck will look to this for support. It plays very nicely with prowess cards, any sort of graveyard synergies, mentor, doubletrike, and I am sure there are plenty I have overlooked. This is just a cheap card that provides lots of options. I may well be underrating it too. It might just be cheap and scary enough that it sticks. I will certainly be trialing it in the drafting cube and imagine it won't be awful even if it doesn't stick. It feels like Lava Dart and Reckless Charge merged and that is a pretty good pair of cards to resemble. Charge is probably better and sadly Charge is just too reliant on having targets to be good for it to be a sensible include in too many lists. Maximize Velocity has the same issue. It is also less powerful and leans entirely on being a little cheaper and better at supporting synergies. Regardless of where this ends up it will see some action and it is really elegant design. Always impressive to see a one drop with a lot going on, that is both mild in power yet high in interest and potential. Especailly one that seems fairly playable as standard.

Dimir Spybug 0.5

Almost certainly not enough support for this to come close to doing what it would need to even to get a look in at a constructed deck. There is effectively zero chance this is making the drafting cube at any point. In fact it is only really the existence of Doom Whisperer and Creeping Chill that make this seem like you could grow it enough to be good. That, if anything, sounds like a standard deck and not at all a cube one.

Enhanced Surveillance 2

Much like Spybug, this is just going to need too many cards with the mechanic to be worth it. In standard however this seems like it is going to make some lists. This might however legitimately see some play as a blue or enchantment means of reshuffling your graveyard into your deck. Most of those are green or artifact at present.

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part VII

Lazav, the Multifarious 3.5

As far as a Clone card goes this is one of the ones I like most although Volrath's Shapeshifter likely does the things Lazav is best at better and offers a wider range of potential abuses. At base Lazav is nearly an Omenspeaker which isn't useless. Just copying your dead dorks for their cost however isn't great, it is just an OK option to have, not something you are willing to be running Omenspeaker in your deck for more often than not. For Lazav to really shine you need to fill your deck with cards like Phyrexian Dreadnought and that makes him build around only I think. I will test this guy out as he is cheap and option dense but I expect him to be too variable and narrow for the drafting cube. I think if he could copy opponents dead stuff as well that he would actually be good enough so it is fairly close. Compared to most Clone style cards Lazav is one of the safest as he has a playable baseline body and is thus never dead.

Glowspore Shaman 2.5

When you want an aggressive version of Satyr Wayfinder I guess? I am not a huge fan of this, I am not overly fond of playing 3/1 dorks for two anymore. To me this is a setup card and at setting up this mills one less card than Wayfinder and generally leaves you one card worse off in hand. Glowspore is perhaps better at ensuring you have lands, next turn... but probably not on turn two when that is most relevant. It mostly comes down to have often you have a land in the bin against the change in odds of hitting a land in top three verses top four. I think even in an aggressive deck I would still tend to prefer Wayfinder but I can certainly see running both. Glowspore might not replace itself but it does add consistency and it might well let you cut a land. Between Stitcher's Apprentice and Borderlands Explorer there is already some reasonable competition for the slots that Glowspore might have a shot at filling. A potentially useful card but a little disappointing for a gold one. Now if this was a 2/3 I would be all over it!

Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice 6.5

Pound for pound this is a very impressive card. Stand alone it is a 4/5 flying trampling vigilance beater for four. That is great even if it is only a 2/5 flying blocker on defense. I have recently been running Mindwrack Demon in the cube and it has been performing well which bodes decently for Aurelia. Where she really starts to shine is with other dorks. Being able to hand out +2/+0, vigilance and/or trample and permanent +1/+1 counters she will get wildly out of hand. There is a huge amount of scaling and synergy potential with those effects.You can buff other mentor creatures so that they can mentor her and then later she can mentor them back again, you can perpetually grow your mentor dorks in a circle jerk of tutelage! Aurelia even impacts the game the turn you make it. It is part Sublime Archangel and part Siege Rhino feeling. This has the raw power to transcend the shackles of being a four mana gold beater in a narrow colour pairing. A very scary card indeed and a legitimate pull to the guild.

Ochran Assassin 0

Cute design but a 3 mana 1/1 with no immediate value or effect is more than a turn off. You need to buff this before it is anywhere near challenging spot removal or ways to force through other attackers for effectiveness.

Knight of Autumn  6

Lots of utility and options but with mild power levels. This is a mix of somewhere between Reclamation Sage, Jadelight Ranger and Lone Missionary. Mostly I am put off by the colours, you can get the sorts of things this offers all over the place in these colours. As a mono card or even in a different pairing it would be much more appealing, even if rather less well flavoured. Knight of Autumn is tricky to get value with, the only time it is a proper two for one is when it Disenchants something. The value there is more having the Disenchant effect rather than the bonus 2/1 at the end of it. Reclamation Sage has seen no play since the more appropriate cycling alternatives like Dissenter's Deliverance and Forsake the Worldly came on the scene. So this is a gold card that has three modes, none of which are great modes independently even when mono coloured. That being said, two of the modes do see a reasonable amount of sideboard play. Knight of Autumn lets you act a little like you have a preboard card in against a number of matchups. This is a pretty classic case of trying to value something ethereal. The parts are bad but the option on having them is great, all be it great in a different curreny. With no fixed exchange rate it is hard to tell if it is a good deal or not! The card seems playable in cube, if barely. I like options but I don't like low powered gold cards in uncommon colour pairings. I actually think this is going to depend on how good Selesnya is in the upcoming cube meta. If it is seeing a lot of play then this will probably last in cube while if not this is going to be one of the first on the chopping block.

Affectionate Indrik 0

Cute though this is there are more efficient 5 and 7 mana alternatives big green dorks with a fight EtB trigger are both simply more efficient and/or effective.

Venerated Loxodon 3

In terms of stats on the board this thing can outclass Verdurous  Gearhulk by a mighty +1/+1. To do this it has to cost zero mana as well! That might sound great but I am not sure it is. If I have five dorks in play I don't want to Fog them all just to grow them all a bit and add a 6th to the board. That sounds like walking into the land of over extensions. This also lacks the ability to put those counters to use right away unless they happen to be on cards like Walking Balista. It lacks the ability to put them on itself. It lacks trample itself. Perhaps worst of all this is a vanilla 4/4 for five when you have no other dorks in play. I think that this is really only good when you can play multiple things in the turn with it for that huge tempo swing, say Spectral Procession into Loxodon. That would be a mental turn three play and would be well worth Fogging your one and two drops to make that happen. It all sounds very win more as well as on the situational side. I like the Loxodon and feel like there are some good uses for it but it is looking increasingly like they are not drafting cube uses.

Blood Operative 1

If there is a lot of playable surveil cards this has a chance but a slim one. Graveyard disruption is lovely but sorcery speed, not to mention single target and at 3 mana, and it gets little done. As such this is mostly a 3/1 lifelink with recursion and that is fine if it actually recurs. Sadly that seems super unlikely which makes this pretty unplayable. It isn't going to get any tribal love either.

Ledev Captain 0

Grey Ogre you say? This is obviously quite good in a stall where it can become big and act as a mana sink. Lots of cards do well in stalls though and a good number of them are better than Grey Ogres to begin with...

"Giant Soldier" 0

Giant Soldier, meet Inferno Titan, Inferno Titan, meet Giant Soldier.

"Conclave Centaur" 3

Well this is certainly very powerful. It is like a mini Wurmcoil Engine. It is also just a bit of a dork. You can ignore it for a bit, you can chump it easily, you can even just get involved in blocking it and take it down fairly easily. It doesn't provide value just from being there nor does it threaten to end the game and those are really what I expect from a card that is four or more mana these days. The cost is sufficiently brutal that you are only really playing this in a Selesnya deck with a near 50/50 mix of the colours and a great mana base while also forgoing the perks of colourless lands. I will try this out for sure. Certainly there is a lot more to pull people into the five colour pairings offered in this set and so I do expect more Selesnya to be run. This is impressively powerful but a little aimlessly so and in an awkward way. Phyrexian Obliterator is too narrow for the drafting cube and it is far scarier to face than this. That is the sort of level a gold four drop with no flexibility in the casting cost needs to be.

Cackling Drake 4

I like this the best of the cycle, it is value right away and also has a threatening and relevant body. The "and in exile" bit is outstanding as it doesn't preclude the use of cards like Treasure Cruise with it and that is exactly the sort of card you want to pair with this. Izzet tempo is a good archetype and this would be a solid top end inclusion for such things. Despite it's prominence in my cube I have never bothered to directly support it with gold  cards as there is more than enough from the monochrome blue and red. Stormchaser Mage is a great card but I just don't need it and it reduces the quality of drafts a little compared to a non-gold alternative. If I am not running Stormchaser then I am not running this. Many of the best tempo builds don't even run things over two or three mana. Absolutely I will run this in some contructed decks but it seems detrimental to put this in cube even though it has a good home it would fit well into and despite its obvious high power and suitability.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part VI

Lava Coil 4

Flame Slash and Incendiary Flow got together and now we have Lava Coil. This isn't bad by any means but I am not sure it is required in cube in a general sort of way. The only time this is better than either of the "parent" cards is when you are specifically needing to exile a four toughness dork. Presently most of the things in need of exile are either greater or less than four toughness. You may well see this as a meta pick in a format like a rotisserie where there are lots of 4 toughness things and lots of things in need of exile but you really need to know the meta for that sort of call to be right. A useful card to have as an option and a powerful enough one that it wouldn't look out of place in a cube, just not a card I think I presently need for mine. For drafting it is best to have the broadest range of playability in your supporting cards and so for burn that usually means hitting all targets. Only the very best of those that do not should make the cut.

Never Happened 0

Just too low powered. Exiling is nice and the graveyard hosing aspect is a useful bonus but on a 3 mana sorcery this is not getting it done. The community reaction to this however was well worth it being printed if nothing else!

Golgari Raiders 1

Some powerful scaling potential but a poor average performance. The card is pricey and fairly dull, just a big dork. The only place I see this is in extreme combo situations. When you have Brawn in the bin along with the rest of your deck (which includes at least 20 other creatures!) and something like an Unburial Rites or Dread Return. For general use this is going to be a 2/2 or 3/3 too often and in the rare occasions it does get to being like a 6/6 or bigger it still won't be that effective. It will go 1 for 1 with an answer or get blocked. Narrow, situational and easily countered.

Integrity // Intervention 7

This is great. Really hitting the sweet spot for me. I also really don't rate Lightning Helix all that highly so I feel that speaks volumes for this card. This card is doing gold and modal brilliantly. It has an always useful mode and it has a situational mode with a lot of potential to swing the game. It has the ability to be played when you are missing either of your colours making it more splashable than most gold cards out there. Cards with cheap combat trick modes are some of the best modal cards, as indeed are those with a direct damage mode. This card is a tempo decks dream card. A high tempo high value one mana combat trick or a versatile removal and reach tool with some lifegain. This card should break close tempo games pretty hard and do good work in any matchup. Neither half of this card is overpowered, arguably both are underpowered. Certainly twice the price on Helix isn't a good deal but it is still fine when you are going to use it, you have Integrity when mana is tight after all. I will happily play this in any aggro or midrange Boros deck. I will also fairly happily throw it into a midrange or aggro red or white deck if I can muster up a couple of low key duals that don't hurt my build at all. This is just the ticket for a mono red or white aggro deck. White loves a bit of reach and red loves the ability to play combat tricks. Design wise this card is wonderfully well formed. It looks like the various arms of the Wizards team passed this around multiple times until it was perfect. Like an assiduous carpenter getting the perfect finish on their work, using every tool from the plane and chisel down through the grades of sandpaper till a final wipe with cloth and oil resulting in wood that feels like marble. Being able to make a gold card so playable and yet so clearly not above the power curve is a big ask and it is done here to perfection.

Nightveil Predator 2

Yuk. This is OK but it is a bit all over the place. The cost is severally limiting and the end product is hard to know what to do with. It isn't very aggressive nor a way of generating value, it just kind of sits there. Predator trades fairly well in combat but not as well as you might like. I am sure there will be places for this to shine but in a general cube drafting sense this is in a no mans land leaving it rather useless. It isn't powerful enough to be a good threat card but it isn't cheap enough to be anything else. You either go bigger than this or you go well under it. In booster draft I expect this to be pretty terrifying to face and a good reason to Dimir.

Erratic Cyclopse 3

This seems potentially mental. It has so much toughness and it has that key trample ability. I am also assuming there are abuses for the +X trigger where by you can pay very little mana to make this silly big. Becoming Immense for 1 and give this +12/+6 sounds pretty unfair. Much as a four mana dork that does nothing on its own sounds like a bad card to try and use for combo killing people the high toughness makes it quite safe and a lot of the spells you want to play in prowess style of deck that could house this well are generally good cards that work well together. It would not be much of a stretch getting this into a good looking deck. It is probably still too narrow for the drafting cube but I do plan to build around this, perhaps with Vial Smasher the Fierce.

"Centaur Meditator" 1

Lots of lifegain but not enough to play this because of it and the 3/3 body for three is just not exciting. There is an outside chance you might play with with Kavu Predator synergies but I can't see this ever getting play as a defensive lifegain card when there are so many more powerful cards or lifegain effects on offer.

Price of Fame 2

Over time I expect the count of legendary creatures in cube to grow and it is already significant. At about 17% legends in my cube this is costing an average 3.6ish mana, likely a bunch less as legends are better and you will have way more desire and opportunity to target them. Sadly I don't think you are getting another 0.6 mana worth out of that desire and average three is the point at which this card starts to look interesting. Instant speed unrestricted removal plus decent card quality is good. Presently this is a no, it is a bit like Lava Coil in that it may see some rare action as a meta call. Over time however this could be increasingly playable. It isn't unplayable as it is but I anticipate it unperforming compared to your more general Doom Blade cards.

"Truefire Captain" 1

Terrible standalone card. Super narrow and vulnerable to removal, even burn. I'll take three to Bolt this and still feel like I am well ahead on that exchange. The only place I can see me running this is in a combo deck built around damaging my own dorks as a win mechanic and even then this is like the 4th enabler I would run.

Mission Briefing 3

Interesting card for sure. Obviously the comparison is to Snapcaster where this rather falls down in my estimation. Surveil 2 is great but it is not worth a 2/1. Snapcaster is a two for one and it is a tempo play, this is neither of those things and that is why this is significantly worse. It is also worse for being double blue to cast but that is more minor. It means flashing back a Counterspell is going to make Cryptic Command look light on colour requirements! Where this does have some perks over Snapcaster are in resistance to disruption and in support of prowess mechanics. Not targetting the card you are going to recast and not even selecting it till post surveil on the resolution means that things like Deathrite Shaman and even Relic of Progenitus when you can mill something to cast are not going to be as disruptive as they usually are to recursive cards. Rather than compare this to Snapcaster Mage I would like to compare it to Nature's Spiral. Both are type restricted 1 for 1 Regrowth effects. Would Spiral be playable if you added surveil 2? Mission Briefing will certainly see some play. There are lots of decks happy to reuse their cheap spells and lots of decks that need to. Many of those decks also have graveyard synergy which will up the value of Briefing. I am not sure that this sees play enough for it to be a good draft card though. I think this will need too much deck tailoring or focus to be sufficient value. Try playing the "add UU and surveil 2" to a card game and see if you can think of any that feel better, or even just good. I feel like this is the sort of card that will lead to Mystic Retrieval seeing less play, not a massive accolade.

Darkblade Agent 0

Too narrow by far and not even that powerful when firing on all cylinders. Even if the trigger included scry this would still fail.

Thoughtbound Phantasm 1

I don't expect this to become playable as the result of surveil but it just might somewhere with other +1/+1 counter synergies. Simic is known for such things! Blue is sufficiently lacking in one drops that this isn't the most shocking option out there if you somehow can support it. In reality I think any colour you pair blue with for the +1/+1 counter synergies will be able to provide things to allow you not to lean on poor cards like this. A shame as I would like to place and Ordeal of Thassa on this just for how cool that would be. I put an Eland Umbra on a Lagonna-Band Trailblazer for those 1/9 beats on turn two last night and it was so satisfying that I hunger for more obscure pairings! To be fair, my deck was a Doran deck and my one drop did subsequently beat in for 9. The deck was beastly! I don't envisage this Phantasm ever being in a beastly deck.

Doom Whisperer 6.5

This seems great to me, seems like a mini Griselbrand. Minibrand! The body on Whisperer is great, it hits hard and has a high old chance of getting that damage in. It is not he most efficient five drop by quite some measure in terms of size but it is good enough. Doom Whisperer needs to be answered promptly that is for sure, very little competes with it in combat. The nice body is just that though, I wouldn't entertain this card without more than just a five mana Abyssal Persecutor minus the drawback. Fortunately being able to pay life to surveil is great. You can abuse that really hard with loads of things. You can mill half your deck into the bin on the spot. You can find what you need or you can just ensure you have great draws for a long old time. Whisperer feels like a better top end version of Grim Flayer. I think it will really shine in Golgari delirium decks where it can setup the delirium and find the payoff. Golgari has been starved of fliers and has had to lean on reach dorks to offset that deficit. Whisperer is just a fairly all round playable card. A good threat with potential for immediate and/or ongoing value. Playable in most places and abusive in some.

Friday, 14 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part V

"Vivid Renewal" 0

This is a bad All Sun's Dawn or Season's Past. Very bad in contrast even if it seems OK as a stand alone. Cards that seem bad in contrast to cards that get loads of play in cube can still often be good but those those that seem bad next to ones that don't are non starters.

Locket Cycle 0

Three mana ramp needs to do more. Cashing in for a terrible draw two is not the more we are looking for. If you are cashing these in they are not ramping. Options is nice but we need more upfront as well to be viable as three mana ramp. I prefer Thunder Totem to these and I have not played Thunder Totem before now. Sure, these fix but so does Cultivator's Carvan or Coalition Relic.... or indeed the good two mana Signets and Talisman.

Goblin Banneret 6

I didn't like this at first but it is growing on me. A single trigger on the mentor is enough to make this reasonable value. The firebreathing element of the card is actually great as well. It is uncapped and at a very reasonable one mana to one damage rate. Further to that is is also kind on your mana and works to near full effect in RX decks where Firebreating would be limited. Sure, you have to go up in increments of two which does limit the flexibility of it but it is still decent. One mana 1/1 firebreathing dorks with mild upside (dash / soulbond ) have done some good work in cube and are surprisingly good. This feels a bit better. It trades up well, it represents a fairly serious threat for a one drop, it scales better into the late game than most other one drop beaters, it should leave behind some residual value after is it dealt with too. The only things I don't like about it is how poorly it attacks into things that make 1/1 tokens but the same is true of any X/1 one drop. At least in red you can kill little things readily. I am also not a huge fan of how it is in need of further mana investment to carry itself properly. Unless you have 0 power dorks attacking this is just a 1/1 unless you use the pump which makes this much more of a 3 mana card than a 1 mana card. It is like a Vessel of Nascency in that regard! I expect to see Signal Pest getting a lot better with these mentor cards floating about. I think this is a perfectly playable one drop in red. It is not the most powerful but the options and potential interactions make me hope that it is cube worthy. Impressive design making a one drop that is so fair yet offers a good amount of play. This might not make Savannah Lions look bad but my god does it make them look dull.

Guildmages Forum 0

Really this is a 0 but there is probably going to be some stupid interaction or card that works well enough with this so as to make it playable somehow. The card is shocking however, it encourages you to play gold cards but only fixes for you when you sink an extra mana into it. Nice gold card you can't play cause your greedy land is terrible.

Molderhulk 2.5

Ghoultree is back and is still bad. The scaling here is all wrong and the card isn't even very impressive when you play it. In a dedicated self mill deck where this is reliably two mana then this card is great but beyond that it is basically unplayable.

Arclight Phoenix 7

This doesn't seem to have gone down well with the community but it seems perfectly strong to me. This feels like a red Vengevine. It is weaker than Rekindling Phoenix but it is also a different sort of card. Rekindling is a midrange, even a control card. You play it and it is a good solid dork that is hard to remove and performs well in combat. This is more aggressive. Not only does it do more damage than Rekindling in a short time frame (3 vs 0, 6 vs 4 and 9 vs 8) when simply cast but this can also be discarded and brought into play for free. Turn one Faithless Looting, Gitaxian Probe, Gutshot! While that is a bit unlikely getting it back for free any time after turn one is increasingly likely and still incredibly powerful. It compares well to Vengevine in several ways. Red has more discard than green allowing you to cheat this out more consistently. Red wants the aggressive tempo of a cheated in dork like this more than green tends to. Evasion is huge, a 3/2 flier is a useful card all by itself at all stages of the game but a 4/3 much less so. You need that 4/3 to be alongside other solid beaters for it to make the stats work for it. I would lastly argue it is easier to cast 3 spells in a turn as a red player than two dorks as a green player. A lot of spells draw cards or have flashback or alternate costs while few creatures cost little, certainly not those that do find more dorks to cast. Most significantly you are playing your 1 mana dorks on turn one and so you are unlikely to have a stockpile of cheap dorks to hand for Vengevine recursions. So, if we accept this Phoenix is better than a Vengevine, or indeed just comparable then we have to accept this card is pretty good. I am not expecting it to outclass Rekindling in standard but I can see this creeping into modern and legacy decks and working well. Another angle you can take on Arclight is comparing it to one of the 3 mana 2/2 Phoenix. They were pretty decent cards, especially Chandra's Phoenix when it first came out. Arclight feels better than such cards too offering a better damage return for mana spend on it as well as more potential for abuse. Overall this card might not be the most exciting but that is mostly due to it being a small bland body with no ongoing effects once in play. Unexciting however does not equate to bad, it just directs our bias. It is easy to see why this is received badly but it is does seem to be good upon analysis. It requires firm removal. It immediately acts on the game. It is a threat with reach and a decent enough clock and it is open to abuse with easy to assemble synergies. I am expecting to get this for free more often than I cast it. Lets call it 50/50, how does my average two mana 3/2 recursive flying haste sound now? Sounds more interesting than Rekindling doesn't it?

Midnight Reaper 7

This is probably just better than Grim Haruspex which is (was) easily a card good enough for cube. The morph on Grim is minor to say the least, we can pretty much ignore that. The creature type difference has way more relevance than the morph! Type however has little baring on draft and much more on constructed events. For cube drafts as well as other cube formats the main difference is the lifeloss on Reaper against the lack of card draw when Grim Haruspex is killed himself. A Shock cleanly ends Grim in a high tempo one for one way while most removal goes two for one with Reaper. Reaper is also much happier to get into combat with. I found that with Ruin Raider a lot too, all I wanted was my card back, after that I was more than happy to trade it off in combat. It always felt good when Ruin Raider drew a card then traded in combat and I think Reaper will be exactly the same. I never want to do that with Grim, I feel I need to get some card value from him else he has not been a good inclusion in the list. So, how bad is a life loss per dead dork? It is a bit bad but I don't think it is as bad as having a three drop that is fairly useless against removal, in combat and without support from more of your own cards. One of the most common homes for Grim in cube is the Blood Artist style of decks where you can most easily afford the life loss. I do expect Midnight Reaper to claim the lives of his controllers here and there in cube and yet I don't think that will be much of a knock to the cards viability. Reaper is not far off being a Rogue Refiner and a Dark Prophecy rolled into one which is a great place to be.

Passwall Adept 1

This is pretty awful but not as awful as it looks. Unblockable is actually really powerful in cube, much more so than most other formats. It offers loads of reach and loads of planeswalker control while also being a solid defensive tempo card. It has useful types and does a useful job acceptably well. It is not unimaginable that this feels like the right piece of low end filler for some weird blue aggro or tribal thing.

Vraska, Golgari Queen 6.5

I like a four mana planeswalker in Golgari as black has precious few four mana walkers to offer. I am also a big fan of the -3, it is just a nice rounded ability. While it isn't dealing with big problems it should do a great job of protecting herself and affords loads of range, cover and utility. Where this feels like it might all come falling down is the +2 which is not always that useful. At least it is a may effect allowing you to do nothing and gain two loyalty which is OK. The plus two is only good when you have something like Abundant Growth or Strangelroot Geist to sac off. Then you are getting value, some life and some utility. You can cash in mana sources in the late game which is nice but in the mid game, in a normal run of the mill midrange game, you are going to be really hard pressed to consistently do much with the +2. Getting one good hit will feel like a win, more will feel like when you get a pair of 5/5s with Karn, Scion of Urza! The value of just putting loyalty on a walker is highly dependent on what that walker can do with it. In that aspect Vraska is wildly varied. Against some decks they will fear the ultimate or simply not be able to do anything past unlimited Abrupt Decays and they will need to contain Vraska. A control deck however than has few to zero Abrupt Decay targets it cares about and that anticipates being able to hold off attackers if she goes ultimate can pretty much ignore Vraska if they want to. She isn't directly threatening the game, she can't even make dorks to assist with her ultimate. It would be harsh to call it worse than the original Vraska's ultimate but it also isn't strictly better! Overall I do think the Golgari Queen has what it takes to perform in cube. Golgari are a super common colour pairing that does lack this sort of tool in the four slot. Most decks will care about the -3 quite a lot and will not be able to ignore her. Vraska brings a huge amount of control. She can remove a significantly larger portion of things in play than other walkers in her cost range or she can jump to a healthy six loyalty making her super safe. On top of broad removal coverage Vraska offers potential lifegain and card draw. She is a very powerful control tool, she is so powerful in that regard that you can even lean on her a bit as a win condition provided you have some access to creatures in your deck. The ultimate is sneakily made 9 loyalty (exactly 2x+1 where x is starting loyalty which is the minimum it can be) I suspect for EDH and Doubling Season. Vraska would be oppressive if you can just flop her down and attack everyone for lethal right away! A big part of how Vraska is balanced is by not working all that well with herself. Although a great control card the +2 is hardest to make work in that setting and so diminishes her average performance. Lots of power, lots of options but a little awkward of a card. Likely cube worthy but unlikely to be a bomb. A little less potent than Nahiri, the Harbinger but rather more playable.

Swarm Guildmage 0

Nope, way too slow and gold and low powered. These are basically just limited cards now. Obviously this isn't unplayable, it is an OK body for the cost, it has some abilities that do things. The point is what are you playing this over and why? There are just way too many better things that this shouldn't be getting a look in.

House Guildmage 0

This is a lot closer to playable than Swarmy but you still shouldn't be.

Golgari Findbroker 1

Yikes this thing makes Eternal Witness look good. The cost on this is very heavy for what it does, at 2GB I wouldn't exactly be excited for this card. The body isn't terrible and the effect is good enough, like a one shot Meren of Clan Nel Toth. I can see this being viable in plenty of places but I suspect they will ultimately find ways to forgo what this offers or make use of more powerful more efficient cards that do similar sorts of thing.

Invert // Invent 2

I like this a lot but it almost feels like it is too far. A good modal card offers an always good mode and a situational one, it offers cheap modes and a weighty one. This does those things brilliantly. Sadly the always good mode is also the weighty one and boy is it weighty. Zero tempo and six mana is hard to stomach. Very few decks can support that sort of thing and that is an issue with the one mana mode being so very situational that you cannot rely on it for much of much. The best case on Invert outclasses Invent, you can kill a Bird of Paradise and a Thing in the Ice for one mana! Invert is unlikely to be good enough as Twisted Image or Inside Out have failed to break into cube as yet. If Invert can't carry the card Invent is simply far too narrow to get it done. I will play this in some tailored control decks and it will be pretty powerful but in a draft setting this is going to be a last pick rather often and left out of deck construction all the time.This is just way to cute of a card.

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part IV

Runaway Steam-Kin 6

Cute card. Not sure it is good but also not sure it is bad either. Obviously making a two mana 1/1 is bad. This is bad off the top and bad right away if made on curse. That being said, it takes very little time for this to no longer be bad. You can easily make it turn two and have it attacking next turn for three or four. On curve this should be big quickly but that along wouldn't be enough. What might push it over the edge is the good option density this card provides. Once a 4/4 you have access to some serious burst ramp. This could empower an X spell finisher, the kicker on Verix Bladewing, or just some big Insult turn where everything is dumped at once. I like the design a lot and want it to be good but the card does have some dodgy elements. It feels a bit polar, aggro red decks run out of gas fairly quick so if you draw this late charging it will be a slow affair. There are plenty of good red cards that are pretty weak late game draws however. This also has some decent potential in midrange red decks as well as the aggro ones as the mana elements become that much stronger. One thing that is super rare for red is having a good blocker, obviously this isn't great as it is probably a 1/1 first chance it gets to block but there after it is going to be more impressive in that department. Another nice element this card offers is bluff, with mana open you can run a 2/2 Steam-Kin into a 2/3 and likely get away with it. Lots going on with this card. Very fun and interesting but perhaps not consistent or playable enough for drafting cube.

Ionize 0

Worse than the surveil counterspell I would say. This might seem on theme with a tempo control deck but three mana counterspells are hard to use effectively to maintain tempo with. Izzet tends to be one of the weaker colour pairings for compounding spells in. With all the card advantage and quality on offer I always find I am drawn to the simplest and cheapest options. Why would I Ionize when I can Shock and Counterspell.

Deafening Clarion 0

Odd card. Not great for cube either, you can do a lot better for mass removal in either colour. The lifelink mode seems narrow, under powered and wildly unnecessary.

Goblin Cratermaker 8

Well this is fantastic. It is pretty much the best bits of Hearth Kami and Ember Hauler rolled into one with a dash of Infernal Reckoning for good measure. Easy to cast and lots of utility to offer. This is another top rate cheap red utility dork that you can play anywhere. It is good for aggressive decks giving them scope, interactive cards and answers on threats but it is even better for midrange decks that previously had nothing at all after Lavamancer that they could run. Now they have cards like this and Dismissive Pyromancer. Cratermaker is especially good in cube where a number of strong colourless non-land permanents reside. This card isn't the most exciting or even interesting of cards but it will lead to better games. It is a somewhat medium power level but outstanding playability for the cube meta. It would be unkind to call this better than Abrade but I like it more and have a preference for Cratermaker in most cases.

District Guide 0

No cube deck needs three Civic Wayfinders. No cube deck feels like it needs any to be honest...

Guild Summit 0

Unless you are packing a pauper cube you can do a lot better for fixing than Gates. Even then you are unlikely to have enough to power this in any useful way. Perhaps a budget cube that breaks the singleton rule could put this to use well but my cube won't!

Chemister's Insight 0

Somewhere between Deep Analysis and Heiroglyphic Illumination in function and a chunk worse than both in power and playability. Four to draw two is poor and four to Tormenting Voice is also weak, even if it is effectively a flashback at that point. This isn't enough value or utility. Pretty sure Sift is half the price of this meaning only play this if you want a card like Sift but you have great self mill and discard as well. Rather than describe unlikely places you could consider a bad card like this I'll just try and be brave and call this unplayable in cube.

Artful Takedown 0

Obviously not the removal card you want in cube but this is very strong for limited indeed. Impressive guild focused removal options in this set at common which feels like it will do good things for it.

Gateway Plaza 1

This gets a 1 only because I enjoy winning with Maze's End so much and this kind of helps with that.

Nullhide Ferox 3

Well this is an odd card. Four mana 6/6 is a good start but looks more impressive than it is. A four mana 5/5 is effectively as good in the majority of situations in cube and there are plenty of those that fail to impress. Discard protection is always nice but again, you can get that sort of thing on other cards that have more utility and arguably more power. Hexproof is great but you can remove it for two so this is really just Frost Titan levels of protection. Worse I suspect as you will likely pay the 2 yourself to cast a non-creature spell at some point only to have your opponent use that window to Terror your Ferox. Much as the drawback isn't huge on a green card there are not than many decks only running green. This card isn't the power level of card where you are accepting of drawbacks, even minor ones. I don't see this being exciting in cube or performing that well. It will be a great hoser card for a couple of decks against certain kinds of discard heavy plan but that is where I expect this card to stop performing. Powerful but inappropriate for most general uses. I would just rather run Obstinate Baloth. So yes, this is very powerful but it comes in a very hard to use well package so much so that I am not expecting much action out of this in cube of any real flavour.

Beast Whisperer 4

Nice, even if this doesn't perform in cube it should find plenty of homes in elf decks and a few other exotic places. I don't think this will do all that well in the drafting cube. In most ways it is worse than Vizier of the Managerie and that card was a huge let down. The only way in which it is better than the Vizier is when you can stockpile a bunch of cheap dorks in hand and cast them all quickly to milk a free card out of each of them. This is super hard to setup, pretty easy to disrupt and a relatively unlikely place to find yourself in. Certainly it will win you games in which it sits in play for very long but unlike the only other card that really fits into that category, you cannot get ramp and card advantage with Beast Whisperer if made on curve as you can with Oracle of Mul Daya. Make this on curve and you made 2 mana worth of stats and put a huge target on its head!

"Rain of Notions" 3

Read the Bones is an OK card and this is generally better version at the cost of being gold. This is too narrow purely on that gold front and not exactly a powerhouse card either. A gold version of an existing card really needs to do more than this does to excite. Despite my general unimpressed position on this card it will see a bunch of play in non-draft decks that want Read the Bones and have blue or just some Dimir colour decks after card both draw and yard filling tools.

"Nightviel Sprite" 3.5

Not sure what to make of this. Sigiled Starfish was bad, the body was too do nothing and the slow influx of scry didn't make up for the effective card disadvantage you imposed on yourself. This is a bit different, it offers a more all round body that has to attack to afford card quality. It offers a different kind of defense to the Starfish, likely better overall, but not while offering other value. Augury Owl is also bad and it offers probably more card quality and certainly it offers it quicker. All the Owl lacks is a single toughness and the graveyard synergies. Lacking the toughness hurts Owl as a defensive card but still, it all seems like our new Sprite buddy is far too close in effect and power to otherwise weak cards. I do like a 1/2 flier and I love card quality so I will give this a try. A small change to a cheap card goes a very long way but I am not holding out for this to perform. It should at least be a big help to the faerie tribe which are still thin on rounded, playable one and two drops.

Secrets of the Mausoleum 6

Now this is an undergrowth card I can get behind. Certainly the undergrowth element of the card is important but it doesn't have quite such a pronounced or scaling effect as the others so far. This is always a 1 for 1 card regardless of your undergrowth. I guess technically unless you are running Slaughter Pact and such this is a 1 for 0 when you are at zero dorks in the bin but beyond that the scaling is in range quality and not the numerical outcomes. The card I feel this is most like is Traverse the Ulvenwald. Both tend to do something but not all that exciting or large scope at the low end of the performance range while acting much more like a top rate Tutor at the upper ends of the performance. Traverse is likely the better card of the two for a couple of reasons. The floor is better, the cost is lower, and the range is wider (a bit under 3.7k black card cards against 10.5k lands and dorks). Most notably Traverse will get lands or action which is the main thing you want any card quality tool to be able to do in some manner, if not they become tools just used for very specific applications. Being weaker than Traverse is not to say that Secrets is bad however. It is instant and it will typically have a broader range within a deck than Traverse manages. It also has a much quicker ascent to potency. One dork in the bin will get you some mild disruption or a weak dork. Two in the bin will get you some powerful cards with a fairly wide range of effects from removal to card advantage to potent threats to combo pieces. Three in the bin will get you most of the commonly used cards in cube (and modern/legacy short of the delve ones). Once you hit four you are going to start getting some serious diminishing returns on your Secrets but you will obviously be unlocking the most powerful of the cards in your deck. Mostly I would expect to be using my Secrets in the 1-3 range for CMC. That feels pretty achievable in most cube decks by the time you want to play your Secrets. I think most control decks can probably manage enough in the way of creature count for this to be playable. The issue there is likely having too few good black targets at the low end of the curve. I want to call this the black Impulse but that really isn't a great comparison. Impulse is far more playable, it always works well and works well in anything. Secrets needs a fairly black heavy deck and a fairly creature heavy one, or at least one capable of putting dorks in the bin well and then protecting them. Secrets also only gets spells. Despite all of this it is still probably the closest thing black has to an Impulse short of Demonic Tutor. Even Tainted Pact is a bit risky to work out well in most cube decks, you can't go exiling half your deck to find something most of the time. Plunge into Darkness is probably the actual black Impulse having given this tangent too much thought but it has awkwardness about it too. So Secrets is a little bit too limiting for use as general card quality but it somewhat offsets this by having such a high ceiling that is relatively easy to get near. In a mono black deck with a sufficiently stocked graveyard and sufficient mana this is an instant speed Demonic Tutor. You don't see many cards that can outperform the original Tutor, certainly not ones that have a hope of general playability. All things considered, this card is not all that powerful, a bit under Traverse feels right. What is exciting about it is the card quality aspect for black, a colour rather starved for depth in playable card quality. Further to that, a colour reliant on clunky inflexible cards and thus in real need of good card selection. I like the design on this card a lot. It is super interesting with good potential but with a good power level.

"Whispering Spy" 0

Nope. This would still suck if it wasn't capped at once per turn. Narrow, no abuse and low powered.

Expansion // Explosion 1

Expansion is a good Fork, it is easy to cast and not all that limited on targets with only a handful of things you would want to copy above four CMC. Fork however is not that great of an effect. It isn't that great value when used on your own cards. It is cute on some powerful draw effects but it is super situational and slow to setup. It isn't great on your opponents stuff either, it is unreliable and rarely capable of big swings like a Misdirection effect is. I only really rate a Fork effect when I can pair it with additional cost cards like Tormenting Voice or Fling, beyond that I think they are pretty useless. A two mana Fork would be a bonus as a mode on an otherwise good card and add at least some value. On the side of a card as narrow as Explosion however a Fork is not doing much. Explosion is a lot of mana to do not that much. The tempo and interactive potential for Explosion is just terrible. Six mana for 2 damage. Sure, you get some cards and that is great but there is cheaper card advantage and way way cheaper burn. This is dead until five mana and doesn't feel good till eight or more. You need to be rather better than that to stand a chance in cube. Eight mana cards win games and quickly, this is not such a card.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part III

Wary Okapi 0

Response // Resurgence 3

Great design here, part of which makes this a very hard card to unpick. For a gold card it is very playable which is a big deal in cube. This is incredibly painless to splash and superficially seems exactly the sort of thing you want to splash. Essentially this is a modal card with two modes, a cheap and easy one to cast and an all round harder to cast mode. The former is generally quite useful and works well from behind while the latter is a massive game ending play. As far as modal cards go that is a pretty sweet sounding pairing of effects. The way in which you want to use the two halves of the card is however opposed. The cheaper mode is best in a control shell while the big mode is best in aggressive decks, or at least, creature heavy ones. This feels like more of a problem for the card. I am fairly confidant this sees far too little action to be a good drafting cube card. Much is down to the somewhat at odds functioning of the two halves, the rest is just because it is ultimately a Boros card. This isn't close to strong enough to play as a mono card and so you need the five mana gold mode for the card to reach its potential. This isn't the tool that the few viable Boros archetypes need, it isn't really a tool any deck needs. It needs to perform well in a archetype that is otherwise great to achieve cube worthyness and I can't see that happening. I will certainly try this out and likely even build with it in mind in a constructed even as I am intrigued to understand this design of card better. There is certainly potential here but it feels very hard to get at fully.

Find // Finality 3.5

A second Golgari card in this style, how we are getting spoiled! This is certainly very powerful. A two mana two for one is potent even without any tempo change. Indeed the two mana two for ones without tempo gains are some of the best! What lets Find down is needing a bin with two dorks in it, two relevant ones at that. This only happens somewhat later in the game which renders this whole card very late game with the second mode costing six. Finality is certainly a devastating play if you can pull it off however it is all sorts of conditional to get near optimal. They need nothing with more than four toughness, you need something with at least three. More over, you need to be alive and with six mana against the kinds of decks that you want mass removal against. I think Finality is situational enough that you can only really play this card as Find. If your deck doesn't want what Find does then don't play this. Every now and again Finality will help you but it isn't something you should be relying on. Find is still strong but it is a lot narrower than such an effect would be if you gave it any reasonably frequently useful alternate mode. In other words Finality is almost a trap, it makes Find look more playable than it is. Certainly this card is very powerful in the right setting but finding that won't be commonplace. Certainly easier than for Response // Resurgence but still not easy.

Niv-Mizzet, Parun 1

This guy is the enemy of colourless lands! Don't be playing both in the same deck... Probably just don't run this. I like the design, I do not like the cost or stat allocation. I just can't look at this and not see a bad Consecrated Sphinx. Even trying to combo him with Curiosity seems awful. Running this into a Chupacabra or Cast Out is going to feel awful. Making this and just having it ignored and not doing enough is going to be a real thing too. Most cards costing five or more in cube do more to stabilize a game that this. If you want stability and closing power play Inferno Titan style cards and if you want value play Sphinx cards. Is new Niv Powerful? Yes, very. Is he appropriate? Not at all.

Dream Eater 5.5

Venser, Shaper Savant got a big brother. And boy is it big. That extra two mana buys you an awful lot here. Flying, +2/+1 and surviel 4! This seems amazing, high power, high utility, high playability and all the good stuff. My concern is that it is more of a bridge card and not a top end card. When you pay six for something you want it to end the game rather than being a good all rounder. I suspect this will be better at ending the game that the body suggest but it won't do it simply, you will have to work the value out of Dream Eater. I feel like Dream Eater will kill a lot of planeswalkers and turn the tide in many a close game. It doesn't end a game by itself but it should do huge work in combination with other stuff. It feels more of a midrange card than a control one but blue midrange decks are pretty much what control is these days in cube. This card is impressively well placed power wise but it is hard to place performance wise. It could do as well as Torrential Gearhulk or it could be a dud. The meta is certainly moving towards wanting more cards like this but I don't know if this is still a bit too much. Six is so much to pay for a boomerang, or a 4/3 flier, or really anything. Are you happy to pay six for a bit of everything? It is a bit like getting a great deal on something in real life but having to buy it in significant bulk, it poses some awkward and different questions. It is worth noting that Dream Eater offers no inherent card advantage which might be an issue for its success.

Assasin's Trophy 8.5

Well this is the highest rating I have given a card in quite some time. Clearly this is just great. It is Path to Exile but for one more you get to kill anything. ANYTHING! Just an instant speed Dreadbore like this would have been exciting but slap on a Creeping Mold option why not! This is pretty much the ultimate problem solver. It might not handle some of the awkwardly durable cards like Council's Judgement does but those are not typically the most commonly problematic of cards in cube. Being instant and a mana less and dealing with utility lands trumps a lack of targetting and exile. Giving away a basic land and being gold does bring it closer to even but I am presently liking Trophy most as a coverall. (as an aside, I would say Cast Out is largely taking the place of Judgement in a lot of places these days).Trophy is likely not a card you want to overload on. Perhaps 4 Abrupt Decay will become 3 Decay and 2 Trophy in constructed lists. I certainly expect to see a lot less Maelstrom Pulse in constructed events! Trophy is removal you want to use last of your options and late in the game where possible, ideally on the turn you apply the killing blow. It is Pact of Negation levels of good on the last turn and wildly better on all those prior to the last turn! With this Golgari challenges Orzhov for the crown of removal king. The tempo plays this offers are really strong. This isn't overpowered, it isn't even that much above the curve. It is certainly less powerful than Path to Exile if such things were truely measureable. What Trophy does so well is being efficient, appropriate and incredibly playable. This will so rarely be a useless card and that is the real strength of Trophy. Very few decks are immune to what this does. Decks without basic lands should be terrified of what this does. A full suite of Trophy, Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruin would be utterly devastating to decks without basics, even those with just one or two might well fall to such things. Expect to see this everywhere. Standard through to the eternal formats and every thing in between. Casual formats too. This is the new Vindicate and it is absolutely an upgrade on the old classic.

Hypothesizzle 0

If words had taste this would be a pretty disgusting flavour. This is not a direction I would like to see card naming go in. As for the card, it isn't the worst. It is a bad Prophetic Bolt (which is hardly a big name itself) but it is a limited card so we can forgive it and accept it is not really for us cube folk.

Sumala Woodshaper 1

At three mana this would have been very interesting but at four it falls short. Four cards isn't that deep for digging into your deck. The 2/1 statline is pretty limp. Being gold is lame. This feels like a bad Militia Bugler and that card isn't exactly making big waves in cube.

Sunhome Stalwart 2

Realistically this is too fair for cube but back in the day this would have been a bomb. Even quite recently this would have at least been a good cube worthy sort of thing. In many ways Stalwart is better than Precinct Captain. In one specific and important way he is worse. You get no value attacking with Stalwart unless you also attack with a 0 or 1 power dork. Even if you have a significant power buff on Stalwart you need to attack with something else and that makes it situational. When you can attack with two things you are winning and as such Stalwart is a little too much of a win more. The card does work wonders with Walking Ballista and generally has a good ceiling and a good floor. The floor is higher than it is for White Knight kinds of cards. The card is close to palyable. Power averages for it are decent but it just isn't a thing you desperately want. It is just kind of generically fine. A situational Slith with a better starting position. You could run this in cubes, it would be fine but it isn't doing anything specific or anything all that well. I'll test it to make sure it is only fine.

Fresh-Faced Recruit 0

Whisper Agent 2

This has a lot going for it. It has a decent stat line for the cost. It is super playable being a hybrid card. It is super playable due to having flash. It offers utility and card quality with the surviel. All round this card looks good but it never looks great. Where do you want a card like this? What is it better than at three mana in the cube? Basically this just isn't doing enough to merit the filler level of card it is at three mana. I am always going to play a card with cycling or something that cantrips for less mana instead of this if I can. I like it and much like Stalwat, it would have been great some years ago. Now however this is not getting it done I fear.

Dimir Informant 0

No card advantage makes this weak. You play Sea Gate Oracle or Strategic Planning instead of this in all cases I can imagine you might think Dimir Informant was good.

Bounty Agent 6.5

This is pretty good but certainly not outstanding. It sits somewhere around the Remorseful Cleric level at best. A 2/2 for two with vigilance is well below par. It is going to be hard getting much value out of that on anything but a board without opposing creatures or at least with some buffs! An ability that needs to tap is a downer as well but the vigilance at least assists well in that department. Mostly is it just bad when you are a turn slow on killing Emrakul due to summoning sickness and that costs you the game. It really doesn't need to be Emrakul either, just any card dealt with a turn late is dodgy. This is quite bad as removal purely for that delay and the window it gives your opponents in which to counter answer your answer with their own removal. A 1W sorcery with the same removal conditions would be a more powerful removal card but it would be too narrow to see play. The generic 2/2 body mode lets you play the effect without being punished too hard for being so situational. This is like a good Kami of Ancient Law, not good because the way it works is better but because it has more abundant and more powerful targets for the removal in cube. This kills 15% of creatures in my cube, typically the good ones, as well as a couple of good artifacts and enchantments. When you can get this out first it will force inefficient lines or bad play and that will be decent value at low cost in the general case too. That is really how you want this card to work, that or have a lot of ways to give it haste!

March of the Multitudes 2

This is a bit like a Sphinx's Revelation! It is even more like a Secure the Wastes and is sadly quite a lot worse in cube. Gold being the main reason but getting two less dorks basic is huge too. It is so crippling to the card that you can only play this when you expect on average to have at least three dorks able to assist in convoking this out. In such a deck you start to care about the lifelink rather less as you have a mass of crap on the board. Certainly this will have places it is good but it isn't close to cube worthy and shouldn't show up often at all in constructed cube events. Powerful but often overkill and with few suitable homes.

Izoni, Thousand-Eyed 2

This is very much a card that is made unplayable by the few graveyard hosing effects in cube. Too much weighting is on the undergrowth ability and as such the card has a shocking floor. When you make this with four things in the bin it is great. When you make it with like six or more it is devastatingly good. It is not that far off playing Avenger of Zendikar and having a land drop to follow it on the same turn. Izoni is easily able to be on that 7+ mana power level of card but still, it is a gold card with high cost, high setup needs and one that is fairly easily countered. This has no place in cube with the likes of Ishkanah and Grave Titan kicking about but it could be used in some dedicated self mill recursion style decks. I can see this working great with Dread Return, Stitcher's Apprentice and Recurring Nightmare (although most things work well with the latter). As with the previous March of the Multitudes, Izoni is potentially very powerful but too narrow for general use. A shame as I would love to have a card with that activated ability that I could play generally in cube.