Monday, 22 April 2013

Dragon's Maze Set Review

Right, first draft of the Dragon's Maze review ready for the keen people. Pictures to follow later as ever. Happy reading.

Renounce the Guilds 0.2 (C cube)

An efficient and effective card, just not for the cube. Not enough things are reliably gold nor desperately need killing to merit playing this other than as an extreme sideboard card. In a very heavy gold cube then its going to be fine but not a very skilful or exiting card for building or play.

Riot Control 0.1 (C cube)

Expensive for a Fog effect but with the good synergy lifegain bolted on it may wall cover enough ground for the odd deck that really wants a bunch of Fogs. So far I have only found this to be mill decks and there are many better Fogs already out there so this is a rather a long shot card.

Wake the Reflections 0.2 (C cube)

I like this, it is cute, but it isn't much use sadly. I really want to see the blue version of this with proliferate as that would get much more done in the cube. If a good pitch casting cost card that made a big token were printed this would get a lot more interesting but as things stands it is too situational and unlikely to be cast early enough to enough effect. Being cheap is good but not much advantage in the early game when you have nothing to use it on.

Scion of Vhitu-Ghazi 1.7 (B cube)

This is basically a Cloudgoat Ranger with a few tweaks. I rather think I prefer the Giant to this as it makes more tokens and is able to offer more of a flying presence. The populate could get you better things than a 1/1 flier but is not something to rely on. This is a bit more robust than Cloudgoat with his extra toughness as well as being harder to knock out of the skies entirely. I wouldn't run both in the cube so I might swap these two around a bit to find out if this does deserve the slot over the Cloundgoat.

The Gatekeeper Cycle - no slot

Some might make the odd cube deck without the gate pre-requisite but as I don't think I'll be having gates anywhere near my cube these are a bit of a no brainer.

Hidden Strings - 0.7 (B cube)

I don't know why but I am drawn to this card, far more so than with Hands of Binding. The Hands are a very tenuous removal effect while the Hidden Strings cannot really be used in this manner. They can help you force through some attackers on the turn you make it but there after you need other ways to get in such as removal or evasion. Despite this I really love an untap effect, much more than a tap one, especially a sorcery speed tap. Being able to add two or more mana extra every time you connect with your encoded dork is very interesting and adds a lot of options to blue. You can also give your dorks pseudo-vigilance or abuse Aether Vial, Enclave Cryptologist etc. Being able to tap stuff will also be annoying on occasion but very much depends on what they are doing, you might lock out a Grim Monolith or be able to lock out lands to get past counter magic. All in all a cheap and versatile card that pays for itself when you cast it and offers a lot of potential tempo to the blue mage. I will definitely be trying this out in the A cube but have given it a tentative B cube slot as it is quite frilly and potentially very narrow in application.

Aetherling - 2.1

Much as I want this to just be rubbish it turns out it is pretty damn good. As a six drop it is a little low impact initially and rather vulnerable, however if you make it with a mana spare it is going to be a serious problem from then on in. My initial aversions to it stem from it not being a great thing to curve right into, not offering much extra value in cards or tapping that Titan and Sphinx give and requiring further mana investment to be its most effective. Once you have it active however you have immense control over the game. I suspect this will find more homes as a finisher in more combo or ramp style decks rather than the control ones although it will also definitely wind up in a few of them. The more mana you have spare the more you can put this to work. You can block almost any monster without evasion, you can get a guaranteed 8 damage in per turn and still have it block if you need and you can keep it alive through any removal for just one blue. This is a whole lot more dork than Morphling and seems to be cube worthy. I think it is most like Simic Sky Swallower in the role it will perform in control and ramp decks. Its main advantage over the leviathan is that it is only blue but it is also more flexible in controlling the board. On the flip side it doesn't have flying and needs ongoing dedicated mana ensuring it won't be a Reanimate target .

Runner's Bane 0.4 (C cube)

A very bad Smother style card for blue. Blue having basically no cheap non-bounce removal could still well be interested in this card from time to time. Most of the other cheaper ways blue has to deal with dorks in a more permanent way require some building around while this is stand alone. I could see this being viable in some mono blue decks and even the odd UG deck but it is such low power I think often people will find alternative solutions.

Uncovered Clues - 0.3 (C cube)

If only this were instant... As a three mana draw effect it digs pretty deep and will find you lots of tasty action but often what you need is lands for which this falls short. You would have to be playing a very high count of instants and sorceries, with control these days having many more planeswalkers and dorks I cannot see this being any good in almost all control builds, especially with something like Compulsive Research as an alternative. Perhaps this would be good in storm style combo decks but it is too restrictive and too liable to wiff to be top quality card draw.

Blood Scrivener - 3.0

Dark Confidant this is not yet it is still a fine card. An acceptable body and cost for most kinds of decks with a good creature type to boot. In black it is quite easy to get rid of your hand with such cards as Liliana to help out. This won't be drawing cards very often in the first few turns nor will it draw cards very often in anything but agro decks. Even in those just hitting two lands will turn him off for at least a turn. While you can play expensive cards with Blood Scrivener with no fear of chunking away your life total as Confidant does you sort of can't really if you actually want to be drawing cards. One life is only fractionally cheaper than Confidant will average you as well although at least with Scrivener you have control over turning the effect off should your life get dangerously low. Dark Confidant is one of the top three monsters in Magic and so comparing unfavourably to him is no big deal. Even if Scrivener only draws you one card each game he would still be highly cube worthy, as he is you can just play him as fine cheap filler that scales better than most into the late game, or you can build a deck a bit more focuses on using him effectively with cards like Small Pox, Liliana of the Veil, Raven's Crime and the like where he will be much closer to Dark Confidant in power and offer nice redundancy for you in that role.  This is head and shoulders above the other cards in the set as a cube card. It will see a lot of play, going in the majority of non-splash black decks and giving a decent boost to the colour.

Crypt Incursion - no slot

Inconsistent and dependant on what your opponent is up to. Can be quite a lot of life but is a very narrow sideboard card at best.

Pontiff of Blight - no slot

An odd size and for six mana he has a very underwhelming effect on the game. I can't see what deck would ever want this.

Pyrewild Shaman 0.4 (C cube)

Despite my lack of confidence in this cards ability to perform to a high level in cube I am a big fan. I like the bloodrush mechanic and I love a card that has uses from beyond the grave. Sadly this dork is both unexciting as a body and very costly to recur meaning he shouldn't see any real play. I like the idea of him most in a goblin deck where you will be more able to freely attack with your key goblins due to his bloodrush and his weaker body is masked by a juicy creature type.

Weapon Surge 0.2 (C cube)

A very cheap and reasonably potent effect both for the normal cast and the overload option. This would be fine in a deck like red deck wins where you will be able to easily keep the early tempo against other creature decks with this card. Later on it would still be pretty good assuming you had three or so dorks out allowing you a big swing with lower chances of throwing dorks to their deaths. Combat tricks are very hard to justify in a cube deck as they are a touch situational, demand a very high dork count and thus tend to take a valuable slot away from another spell. For a deck with bigger spells such as RG beats this is too low impact to be that desirable and with red deck wins already having the much more powerful Reckless Charge should it resort to more situation cards I doubt this will ever get a game.

Renegade Krasis 0.2 (C cube)

A reasonable aggressive body with an OK effect. Big evolve monsters are much worse than small ones, very few cards level this guy up. He works pretty well with Oran Reef Vastwood but there is nowhere close to enough good support cards for this do be doing anything in the cube. It just has a synergistic and unique ability on an acceptable body making me unable to out and out reject it.

Phytoburst 0.3 (C cube)

Despite being a sorcery this is an awfully big pump for just two mana. I can almost see this being a combo card for something silly like a Glistener Elf. If you had enough trample or other evasion some decks could pack this as a bit of a finisher giving green a bit more reach in the very early game. It is much more comparable to Overrun than it is to Giant Growth, mostly as they are both sorceries and need to be used differently as such, but also because it is a very large stats bump. Decks not expecting to have three or more dorks in play or not get to five mana yet still having the desired evasion could want Phytoburst but I don't know what decks they are.

Skylasher 0.5 (C cube)

A very solid card but far too much of a hoser against blue for me to want it to have a slot. Green is also spoilt for two drops making it less likely to see play. I like the idea of reach on a grizely bear and flash is always handy. Pro blue and uncounterable do add to the value of the card and make it a lot of dork for the mana but will only come into play when up against blue mages. This makes it hard to put in a maindeck and not much fun as a sideboard spell.

The Cluestones - no slot

Three is too much mana to play for this kind of ramp in the cube, I would play the Diamond Cycle cards well before I touched these.

Maze's End - an honorary C cube slot?...

This is the card I have seen thus far that most tempts me towards gates. I would love a Mana Bond, Life from the Loam gate deck with this as its win condition, almost certainly terrible but also great fun.

Advent of the Wurm 0.3 (C cube)

A solid card that would be a top end staple in populate decks in the cube if any populate cards were ever played. As it is I think this is too much investment for something so easily killed and basically offering nothing more than a fairly hefty flash dork.

Ascended Lawmage 1.3 (B cube)

Despite being very dull this is deceptively good I think. If it had a third toughness or was just one colour it would be A cube material. Flying and hexproof are two of the best all round abilities a creature can have. This is a hard to stop midrange threat that will be a royal pain for planeswalkers to cope with. In a more agro or even Cawblade style deck it is an ideal creature to be equipping. As it stands I think it is a bit too bland, has too low immediate impact on the game and is rather too narrow to see enough play.

Blast of Genius 0.6 (B cube)

A great deal more powerful than Prophetic Bolt this being a sorcery sadly won't get played in any control decks. It does however have some powerful combo potential in the Erratic Explosion decks where it will do what the Explosion does without any setup. Much of why that deck isn't tier one is that it too often draws the Draco (or Emrakul) and struggles to put it back ontop of the library. Six mana is a fair amount for a combo deck but should win the game even disregarding the bolted on Ancestral Recall.

Blaze Commando 0.3 (C cube)

Quite hefty but really a card that is competing with things like Seige-Gang Commander or even Elspeth Tirrel rather than Hero of Bladehold. As he needs you to have other damage effects to power him up as well as being a restrictive gold card I as well as offering less utility than the comparisons I can't see this ever getting play.

Blood Baron of Vizkopa 0.2 (C cube)

This is a fairly decent dork and of enough power level to make the cut in the cube. Most of this power however derives from the protection effects which I don't especially like as it doesn't make for better magic. The +6/+6 and flying trigger is pretty unlikely and not something that one designs towards making it less relevant than most planeswalker ultimates. You probably won't be too unhappy with it power wise if you do put one in your cube but this is never going in my A cube. Not many decks would want this and those that do will only have it be top rate against a small fraction of the field.

Bred for the Hunt - no slot

Too little support cards, no effect on its own, unreliable, easily negated and so much worse than Edric no more needs to be said.

Bronzebeak Moa 0.1 (C cube)

While this is clearly far too unreliable to be worthy of a top end agro slot it does smack a little of funny combo potentials so I shall squirrel one away.

Deadbridge Chant 1.6 (B cube)

I rather like this, it is both fun and quite easily supported. You can cheat it into play with Academy Rector and Replenish, you can thin out your yard with cards like Life from the Loam and Deathrite Shaman to get better things back and so forth. It is sadly rather janky, being top heavy, of random effect and a gold card. I will definitely play this as much as I can but ultimately I suspect it will become a B cube card. There are many combo decks that set out to have infinite turns such as Panoptic Mirror plus Time Warp, and with this enchantment arrives another. All you have to do is remove everything in your graveyard except for a Timewalk effect! Perhaps not the best but both fun and quite easily incorporated into non-combo decks. I really like how the effect will influence what you cast as you probably don't want to fill up your yard with cards you don't want to get back over something more juicy. Typically the bar for cards that draw you one per turn is set at three mana with Jace Beleren and Phyrexian Arena but the Chant does a fair bit more and is worthy of experimentation despite being twice the price.

Carnage Gladiator 0.1 (C cube)

Almost certainly never going to get played at cube level I am still a little drawn to this card. He is a fairly ominous threat being able to relentlessly swing and forcing through some extra damage from your whole team regardless of blocks. His regenerate is very expensive but does make up for his low toughness a little. If you can curve into this against another creature deck you have a good chance of just overpowering them by constantly turning sideways slightly like with Hellrider. Many BR cards of this cost exist and most are of higher power making it more unlikely this will ever see play.

Council of the Absolute - no slot

This is an odd card, it does nothing in the cube and looks really rather awful next to Grand Arbiter Augustin IV. In Sphinx's Revelation formats it seems really rather tedious and silly but never mind.

Deputy of Acquittals - 0.6 (C cube)

This is another card I am fond of but it is too narrow and low powered to deserve any sort of top ranking cube place. It is cool for synergy and trickery but has an unexciting body and is little use in the early game making its low cost far less appealing.

Dragonshift - no slot

A very bad Overrun effect with the option of taking out a planeswalker or being a combat trick prior to seven mana. There are no decks that have enough creatures in them that will ever get to seven mana in which this could be played, hence no slot.

Drown in Filth - no slot

Unreliable, slow, gold sorcery speed removal with a minor graveyard themed perk that is not enough even in my books to get a slot in decks it supports well.

Exava, Rakdos Blood Witch - 0.2 (C cube)

Another high power card but sadly without enough support cards to benefit from her effect she doesn't come close to Falkenrath Aristocrat, Olivia Voldaren or Hellrider in power or ease of abuse. Situationally she will be better than those but overall she is outclassed by too many other cards to get much of a look in unless swarms of good black and red dorks with +1/+1 counters get printed.

Lavinia of the Tenth 1.2 (B cube)

One of the more interesting cards from this set, if the pro red was something more widely useful I would be more interested as this will primarily see play to hose red decks in my cube if added. As a hefty mid range dork she offers tempo and value with her comes into play effect. She is big enough to hold the ground fairly well and act as a fine threat on a clearer board. Less useful against control decks than agro ones against which she will often be a bit of a Timewalk but still not useless with most of the strong walkers costing four or less. With evasion, even just trample, she would be one of the better anti planeswalker dorks going but as she is I suspect she will be chumped on tokens an awful lot. I just struggle to review a card that will be fairly average against non-red decks and a complete beating against the heavy red mages. While protection effects rarely improve the game and are hard to evaluate I don't mind as much when an allied colour gold card has the protection from the enemy colour, it seems fair in flavour terms. I also don't mind as much when a card has protection from its own colour but that isn't relevant here...

Emmara Tandris 0.1 (C cube)

No thank you very much. Lots of mana, gold, legendary,  low power, no evasion and a very niche ability. Perhaps there will be a specific combo use for this but I really doubt it. I am not sure this would make the A cube at 5 mana.

Fluxcharger 0.4 (C cube)

This is a very functional control dork in that it holds off almost all mid and early game threats yet it still usable as a fairly effective finisher or planeswalker control when that is what is required. Being forced into casting a spell in your turn to flip it into attack mode is what prevents this from being a top rate card but it might be just what someone needs one day.

Gaze of Granite 1.3 (B cube)

This is far off being Pernicious Deed. The only advantage it has over Deed is hitting planeswalkers however this will tend to make it a seven mana spell and as such not at all exciting. This cannot be used at instant speed and will never hit man lands or artifact lands. You cannot split the cost over two turns thus allowing you to kill most of what is on the board while still curving out which is the real reason this card is so much weaker than Deed. You just can't make much use of it early on nor rely on it to deal with anything at all expensive. It has a heavier black mana requirement which is inconvenient too. It is quite an effective card against weenie decks but shouldn't be doing much against control or midrange. It offers some questionable redundancy to Pernicious Deed but I cannot see me ever wanting this in that role over Damnation.

Gleam of Battle - no slot

Way too much mana for a card that needs dorks in play to do anything and isn't even that powerful an effect initially. This is a big old pile of needless winmore.

Gruul War Chant - no slot

More reasonable cost that Gleam of Battle and probably having more initial impact on the game but still not a threat on its own nor doing very much against certain archeypes to be a consideration.

Haunter of Nightveil - no slot

If this had flying it might be enough of a pain to be worth a slot. It is a fairly decent body and will be very powerful against most creature decks but for a five mana gold card it needs a little bit more to be getting any play. His effect works very nicely with some of the cards in his colours like the newest flavour of Jace and Night of Souls Betrayal.

Jelenn Sphinx - no slot

Too expensive and ineffective on its own for an agro deck to run and too little synergy with the attacking effect to be good in a control deck.

Korazda Gorgon - no slot

For the mana you pay you get an un-scary threat with a situational and overpriced ability. This is not the card you are looking for.

Legion's Initiative 0.2 (C cube)

A cute little card that would work a lot better if there were more cards like Figure of Destiny in the cube so as to easily get both pumps. As it stands the only way this would be viable is in a red deck with the smallest splash of white but then it is not looking much better than a Signal Pest, Goblin Wardriver or even a Goblin Bushwhacker. The exile ability confuses me a little bit but that mostly unfamiliar wording, it offers some semblance of Wrath proofing as well as the ability to trigger a bunch of comes into play effect which could be handy. I think Boros Charm does the Wrath proofing rather better overall however and don't see this being useful or mainstream enough to be making any decks.

Master of Cruelties - no slot

This is probably going to be one of those bombs I completely miss and disregard as poo. Having said that, this looks really poo to me. It can't even kill someone on its own, its clock is as pacey as an Ornithopter (although this is assuming a red deck will struggle to do a single point of damage). It has weak stats and no immediate impact. Sure, he forces chump blocks every turn and won't die to very much at all, trading with most of them. He is utterly useless at killing planeswalkers and just not the sort of card I would ever want in a cube deck of mine. With a card like Olivia Voldaren you get all the choices of what to kill and steal while with this they get to chose what they chump block with every turn. Olivia is able to control the skies as well as the ground and is likely a much faster clock, even with burn support for either.

Maw of the Obzedat - 0.1 (C cube)

This gets its very tenous slot mostly for being a sac outlet, all be it a very weak and odd one. The effect inversely scales with itself (the more you sac the less things will get the buff) and he is very pricey for quite a turdy body. Doubt this will ever see play in any guise.

Melek, Izzet Paragon - no slot

A fun card, especially with cascade however not a good card. It needs a deck full of targets, as well as some library manipulation ideally, to get you that much extra value. It gives information to your opponent, it restricts your options despite powering them up and it requires you to be spending more mana to get any value from it. His body is pitiful and would likely be better as an enchantment. Put this effect on a 5/5 flying dragon and I'd take another look but as it is I'll keep to my Consecrated Sphinx. Hold that, I'd rather have a Mulldrifter than this bag of garbage.

Mirko Vosk, Mind Drinker - 0.5 (C cube)

Compared to Master of Cruelties this is getting it done a lot better. His size gives him decent control over the skies and ensure you get hits in far sooner than with the Master. While one hit probably isn't death the second one usually is. In a mill style deck this guy would offer a bit of safety and generally end it in one hit. In cube the 40 card deck size makes me much more cautious of putting cards that mill or things like Shelldock Isle as they are inherently more powerful than the designed intent. Being better than Master of Cruelties is not any great achievement and so I am just going to leave this rotting in the C cube to see if someone else fancies showing me this guys worth.

Morgue Burst 0.1 (C cube)

Not quite Blast of Genius but offering some similar sorts of combo potential. All the highest power creatures don't like to be in graveyards and so this is unlikely to be used as a combo piece but it is always good to have the option to one day.

Nivix Cyclops 0.2 (C cube)

With this, Kiln Fiend and friends there is starting to be a critical mass of dorks that trigger off spells in red and blue. It would be quite easy to make a deck abusing these cards but I think even at three mana it is all going to be way too slow to be a better deck than the more simple red deck wins. It is an awful lot of fun to have sick turns where you have a few dorks out and then cast like six spells and hit them for over 30. In reality though they cast their Wingshards and you move to the next game.

Notion Thief 2.4

Hehe, stick that up your Brainstorm. This card is really quite a beating against a lot of blue mages. Sadly I think they can deck you with a Consecrated Sphinx should you have one of these about making it pretty useless against some of the best blue draw effects, including Fact or Fiction and Gifts Ungiven. Even Timetwister and Time Spiral go a long old way to decking you if you have Notion Thief active. The flash allows you to use this as a Plagiarize however it remains a powerful deterrent to any further card draw thus making it a much better answer to any ongoing effects such as a Phyrexian Arena. While very very effective against some card draw spells they are mostly in blue with some black ones. Most other colours, with the odd exception - Faithless Looting being the big one, have very little card draw and obtain their card advantage through effects. In those situations the best Notion Thief will get is turning off their Wall of Blossoms etc. His size makes him a little vulnerable however you should have managed to get good value from him even if just in play for a short time. Three power is decent and will get at least one good use to chunk down a planewalker or trade with something hefty. A cool card that will be fine most of the time and an utter beating once in a while, like Aven Mindcensor who every now and again Stone Rains due to a wiffing sac land.

Obzedat's Aid - no slot

Too expensive, let alone too restricted by colours. Getting back a Nicol Bolas does not excite me at all compared to the dorks you can get back for a lot less mana.

Ral Zarek 2.8

I rather like this guy and rate him above Ajani Vengeant despite being a little weaker in power and a very comparable card overall. Their costs for both mana and loyalty are identical and the flavour of the effects is not that far removed either. Ral has some immediate perks over Ajani, firstly he is in a better colour pairing that is far more likely to want a planeswalker like this and secondly he has an extra starting loyalty. I have only recently begun to appreciate how significant the difference between three and four loyalty is on the four mana walkers. For example, Ral has a far weaker -2 ability not gaining you any life but it is far more useful as you can get two off in two turns, or three of you want to keep him alive. It is also less of a risk using it immediately as you are left with twice the loyalty. The -7 on Ral is a bit silly and less able to be planned for than with Ajani but should still win most games for you. With planeswalkers it is most about their first plus loyalty effect as to how useful they will be as it is (with the possible exception of Elspth, Knight-Errant) the most commonly used. Ral has quite an interesting one as it doesn't protect him in isolation but can do in a number of ways. The untap is far more useful than the tap I suspect. Being a sorcery  and not stopping an untap the tap can't be used to deny mana or prevent attackers like Ajani and only really works to disrupt things like Mana Vault and force through attacks here and there. The untap however lets you untap a dork to be able to block as well as attack with. It allows you to untap a land, perhaps an Izzet Boilerworks so as to have mana for some disruption open. Not having the plus loyalty as the main protective effect is fine, especially when you have such a solid -2 protective effect and enough loyalty to freely use it. I suspect this walker will show up in all manner of UR decks ranging from agro to control to the artifact ramp decks in which untapping Goblin Welders and Gilded Lotus becomes rather brutal. I have said it before and been a little off the mark but this looks to be the best gold planeswalker to date, perhaps not in raw power but certainly in palyability.

Plasm Capture 1.5 (B cube)

Normally when they do a modernized version of a completely broken old card they make it far far from playable. Mana Drain this is not but it is still quite a potent card. In a deck such as UG heartbeat or ramp if you manage to stop their 4 drop with this you will have a huge hand in going off the following turn. The fact that the mana is of any colour you desire is pretty significant meaning you will always be able to put it to good use unlike that from Mana Drain which you can end up wasting. In a UG ramp deck this also has some worth and I feel is better than Mystic Snake in general. The Snake works well for soft late game locks with bounce cards and some reasonable mid game tempo. Plasm Capture has no recursive synergies however offers a potentially game breaking tempo swing in the mid game. Quite a big broadcast as any 4 mana instant is but possibly just good enough for the A cube, certainly worthy of some testing.

Pilfered Plans - 0.5 (B cube)

A cute and useful little spell that can work in decks wanting to self mill as well as those trying to mill out someone else. It is a bit low power and colour restrictive to get much play but should be great filler in the odd unusual deck.

Progenitor Mimic - no slot

Expensive, phaffy, slow and dependant on your opponent most of the time. Does not like. On a poo monster like Sea Gate Oracle it gives you risky but powerful long term card advantage on something fat like a Titan is it way too much win more. You should always play what you need not something costly and risky like this. Despite my hating on this card it is a very powerful card that without an answer will bring games to a short close and is exactly the sort of card lots of people like in their cubes.

Reap Intellect - no slot

Very expensive and somewhat underpowered in a limited format making it a no go for cube although likely to be a sideboard staple in standard while people are Revalating the Sphinx.

Render Silent - 0.7 (C cube)

Better than Absorb I would say but not quite enough for a three mana counterspell in the cube. If you are white and scared of storm style decks play Abeyance or Orim's Chant. This is at its best against agro decks that are playing a bit around counter magic in the mid game by trying to make multiple cheaper threats. The thing is that mass removal is generally a better way of dealing with that kind of situation.

Restore the Peace 0.6 (C cube)

This is a very powerful way to put the boot into your opponents tempo. You do have to endure a combat and if you block with much more than walls you will be sending your own stuff back as well but this might be good if it is all Sea Gate Oracles and the like. It is brutal against token heavy strategies but probably a little too situational to be a mainstay disruption effect.

Rot Farm Skeleton - 0.2 (C cube)

Much as I love a returny dork this one is way to costly to bring back for what is quite a useless body. It does nothing on defence and is way to easily negated as an attacker. The dredge style mechanic could be good as a way of filling up your graveyard but again costs to much and doesn't have enough support yet to be a viable deck type in cube.

Ruric Thar, the Unbound - no slot

If you could cast this guy at all early he would destroy most combo decks. Unless against a fairly beefy creature deck he should always get six damage through and will always be the first card to eat removal so as to not do more hits for six. If they need to cast other cards to stall and find removal it will probably all be a bit too much to cope with. The reach is quite a nice perk, particularly with the vigilance ensuring you are pretty safe while you kill your opponent. Being gold, legendary, expensive and without any obvious archetypes however this guy shouldn't be getting any play. While fairly good against non-creature decks costing six mana really negates how useful it will be even in the optimal match up. He is of enough power and would be exactly the kind of card to get a cube slot if it were not so narrow due to being gold.

Savageborn Hydra - 0.9 (C cube)

This reminds me of Mikeaus, the Lunarch in that you can fairly usefully lay it at any point on your curve. This dork offers far less support and synergy than Mikeaus as well as being more colour restricted  and starting out as a 3 drop not a 2 drop. You can at least get aggressive with it regardless of when you made it and how much you want to invest in growing it as it doesn't need to tap to do so. The biggest reason I like this is that while you generally want to end your curve by laying him you are still able to pad out your earlier curve with him and use your mana efficiently. It is quite a serious threat and not all that easy to block but suffers from having few potential archetypes, offering no added value and often needing further mana investment to do what you need from it. A high power card that will need to be tried out for sure although I don't hold out much hope of it remaining in the A cube.

Sin Collector 2.1

On the face of it this looks to be quite a lot weaker than Tidehollow Sculler. For one more mana you get one less toughness and are restricted more as to what you can take from your opponents hand. The upside is that whatever you take is gone forever which makes the body significantly more useful. With Sculler you are somewhat precious as losing it gives them the card back while with this you can chump, swing into blockers or sacrifice off from some other advantage. Vastly better against combo and control than against agro I think this card is still powerful enough to see cube play.

Sire of Insanity - no slot

The effect can be got far easier and far cheaper, the body can be far far surpassed for less mana as well leaving no place for this card in the cube. At its best it will be a Mind Twist on the back of a big old threat however so many things need to be just so that you are always going to be better off playing the separate effects.

Spike Jester 1.6

While this is no Goblin Guide it will still sit very well in Rakdos deck wins, an archetype that is quickly becoming the best of the Rx agro decks. He has two downsides, being gold and therefore only having one real home and having one toughness thus not always able to safely attack. Despite this there are no real comparable two drops that offer such a quick and cheap output of damage. You can clear the path of weenies easily in the early game and likely force them to trade with something fairly decent. Simple, effective and good value for mana.

Tajic, Blade of the Legion 0.8 (B cube)

I am rather unsure about this guy as I am not quite sure where he fits in. In a control deck where a 4 mana 2/2 indestructible would have a fair few uses you are not very often going to trigger the battalion making him a limp threat and probably worse than Solem Simulacrum or Hound of Griselbrand depending on which aspect of the card most appealed. Being a legend is tedious as it makes him so much easier to deal with thus negating a lot of the value of his indestructability. In an agro deck he is rather top end and requires you to have support to be much use aggressively. With no evasion his being so fat with battalion is negated a little too. As a presence of the board that is incredibly persistent I like this guy, he seems safe against mass removal, good with equipment and a pain to attack into. As a 4 mana legendary gold 2/2 with no obvious homes I don't like this guy. The four slot is no longer a place for stalling cards in control decks and there are far more immediate and powerful four drops for agro decks that lead me to think this won't get any play beyond the odd curious tester.

Tithe Drinker 0.7 (C cube)

I like little cards like this, it is both a fine dork for the cost and also quite a rounded lifegain source. Child of Night was too fragile to reliably gain you life as if it were important it would be the first guy to get blocked and killed. With Tithe Drinker you can hold back while still getting some value from the card until a more suitable time to get involved in combat again. Sadly it is both narrow and fairly low power meaning it will not wind up in that many lists but a great little utility filler card none the less. It might well be the card that gives us critical mass to build a vampire themed tribal cube deck which will be fairly bad but good fun.

Teysa, Envoy of Ghosts 0.4 (C cube)

This is just one mana too much. She does not end the game fast enough nor is hardy enough to be worthy of reanimation and seven is a big cut off point for cards for normal casting. This dork rather shuts down getting attacked and assures you 4 damage to them or a walker of their every turn, the thing is by the time you get to drop her the game will usually be over. As a 6/6 flier she would get reanimated, as she is I think I would rather play Elesh Norn. If played in a normal control deck they will just take a few hits for four while not attacking until they have enough to just alpha strike you.

Trostani's Summoner 0.1 (C cube)

While this is fairly awful compared to a lot of the big token making dorks it works really rather well with Torrent of Souls. 18 points of damage spread over several dorks in one big swing is potent. Myr Battlesphere does much the same and is easier to cast and far far better but in a quirky combo deck redundancy is good. I see no other uses for this dork beyond being a good Torrent target.

Unflinching Courage 0.5 (C cube)

Armadillo Cloak is a much cooler name for this effect. I haven't had the Cloak in my cube for a long time now although it is pretty decent as creature enchants go. With ever more hexproof dorks floating around the Cloak would probably be viable again which means this is too. Having built your deck somewhat to house the risky creature enchant you will benefit from being able to run two copies. When you manage to give a dork +2/+2, lifelink and trample the game ends pretty fast, it is an immense tempo swing and if done on the third or fourth turn will be vastly more powerful than what most other decks are up to. Sadly one copy is a bit narrow for the A cube and so I can't see the second copy getting in, especially with the weaker name.

Varolz, the Scar-Striped 1.9 (B Cube)

A bit of a combo card but also fairly reasonable as a generic dork. In the combo side of things he requires support, the best of which are narrow cards like Death's Shadow and Phyrexian Dreadnaught. It is a combo more akin to Reanimator than anything else as it doesn't win you the game, only put you quite far ahead. I think no dedicated combo deck will try and pull this off however I think many quirky types of BG deck may incorporate this combo from time to time. There are lots of ways to make use of unplayable creatures in black and green, putting them in the bin primed for scavenging. There are even fairly good ways of supporting Death's Shadow which is a fairly playable card with sufficient ways to control your life total. As a dork without any especially abusive scavenge effects he is having trample off being really powerful. In a weenie deck with lots on one mana two power dorks you will very easily be able to have the best guys of all the right sizes in play. You will also have lots of things your not so fussed about saccing to regenerate lying around making you far more able to curve out into Varolz. I think Varolz is better than Lotleth Troll as he can become a bigger threat more easily with less overall investment and aids your other dorks in play while being easier to curve with as well. Lotleth ideally wants regen mana up as often as possible making it rather clunky in the early game. I have given Varolz a lower rating than I first gave Lotleth but this is because I was very wrong about how good Lotleth was and vastly overrated him. The two work farily well together and so may both wind up with an A cube slot if testing proves Varolz to be both impressive and well played. I am tentatively giving him the B cube tag to begin with as he is narrow in some of his appliactions as well as being legendary and gold.

Voice of Resurgence 2.0 (B cube)

A powerful and annoying little critter that slots right into the hate bears archetype. As to whether any other decks would want this vamped up grizely bear is another matter, perhaps zoo. The effects are quite odd and work against some things well while others less so. Against mass removal he does nothing unless you have loads of things that persist or leave things behind like Thragtusk, Strangleroot Geist and Kitchen Finks in play at the time. Against spot removal he is naff in the early game and of increasing value as you get more dorks into play. This also applies to combat where in the early game he will be precious and frequently sit out of combat doing little for you while in the late game he will be something they really don't want to block or attack into. The other ability mostly just shuts down counterspells and helps protect things like man lands and the equipping of your dorks etc. It is an inconvenience if you have removal but it is brutal if you don't, particularly mass removal, but only if you do have countermagic you want to use. Without counter magic it is just quite an efficient but awkwardly scaling dork that replaces itself in some way. I much prefer Strangleroot Geist for being more consistent, more proactive. This has enough power to be in the A cube I am just afraid that it has only one or two homes as it is gold. I like the idea of this in a fairly token heavy deck using non creature state based pump effects like Honor the Pure so as to ensure the token lives through mass removal and can easily be powered up again to something fairly big. Perhaps also quite good in a Birthing Pod deck as you have control over when you turn it into a token.

Vorel of the Hull Clade 1.1 (C cube)

A funky effect but not good enough to build around and not having enough support to just throw into a deck and have it be good. He is of a nice safe size and will do some good blocking for you but he will do little more than River Kajin in all but the most dedicated deck, in which he will be win more rather than Grand Architect style support. Best cards to abuse with him that spring to mind are Tanglewire, Umezawa's Jitte although there are lots of fine creatures to ramp up as well. Cute and fun but not a wise use of a card or mana at cube level.

Warleader's Helix - no slot

Pff, at three mana this would be worthy but still not better than Lighning Helix which I don't rate much outside of control as it is. This is a good hoser against agro decks but really just a bit costly for this sort of ability.

Warped Physique - 0.3 (C cube)

A fairly versatile card that is cheap instant removal of high power in the early game while doubling up as an akward combat trick. You have a little control over how much you can pump or shrink things but not enough to make this a good late game removal card in non control decks and control decks have much less use of a combat trick and would prefer a more reliable removal spell. Nice design but not really enough for cube play.

Zhur-Taar Ancient - 0.4 (C cube)

I am not sure why you would want a Mana Flare on a dork and if you did I am sure you would rather a small 3 mana dork to a five mana fatty. Perhaps this is viable in ramp decks but I am never a fan of tapping out and giving my opponent double mana. It costs a bit too much to make it and have enough spare to compensate for your opponents turn.

Alive / Well - no slot

One situational yet reasonably cost ability and one generically useful yet overcost half. The fusion of the halves fails to offer an exciting package either. The only time I can see this getting play is when you really want to gain life in this way which is not something I see any cube decks wanting to do.

Armed / Dangerous - no slot

No working as a combat trick and being very costly make this card unwieldy and frankly unplayable in cube.

Beck / Call - 0.2 (C cube)

Very powerful when fused but too expensive to be commonly used as such. The halves when used independently really desire different archetypes, one being best in combo elves, the other in more control decks. As a split card this offers too little flexibility in how it is used to be good enough for cube although quite interesting and potentially powerful.

Breaking / Entering 0.1 (C cube)

Much like Beck / Call in that the effects are not good in the same decks when not fused. It is also far less powerful and reliable than Beck / Call when fused. It can be weak redundancy for Glimpse the Unthinkable in a mill deck. As a Reanimate effect it is really far too much mana, even with the added haste bonus, for any combo deck. Being so top end and of limited application this shouldn't see play in generic control or midrange decks either.

Catch / Release 0.8 (B cube)

While this is my favourite of the triple colour cold fuse cards I think it is still too narrow to find a consistent home in any cube archetypes. Nine mana to fuse is a stupendous amount and doesn't even do that much to put you ahead in the wrong situation. As it is all sorcery speed it cannot be used as a cheap combat trick and  it requires you to have sacrifice effects for Catch to be worth playing as a control card. In more tempo based strategies Release is quite expensive and hard to abuse. It is a very powerful effect but, unlike Cataclysm or Death Cloud, both hard to build towards and highly dependant on what your opponent is up to. Overall a powerful but disjointed and highly situational card that is overly restricted by high cost and colours.

Down / Dirty 0.3 (C cube)

A versatile and useful card that is just a bit too expensive on each account for what you get. Regrowth effects are nice for certain decks and this one is reliable but not exciting. Being paired with discard is a pro and a con, it is good as discard is good early and tends to get worse while the opposite is the case for Regrowth effects. On the downside neither effect has any tempo at all and for already slightly overpriced cards I cannot see the flexibility of this spell outweighing the cost enough to see play. I see this as playable in the odd combo deck such as Oath of Druids and in Gifts Ungiven control decks but not likely to make any lists.

Far / Away 1.6 (B cube)

This is the most playable of all the fuse cards but it isn't exciting at all. Unsummon, Diabolic Edict or both always costing more mana than the individual cards. The strength in those spells is their cheapness however the cost is still passable on Far or Away. The effects work well together in that it makes the Edict far more likely to hit what you want it too. While a very rounded, versatile and well scaling removal effect it is only that and has no other uses like Fire / Ice or the various charms. All this does really is help against creatures which is fine but not exciting for a gold card which this must be consider as, unlike Fire / Ice, as it is never worth playing for just one of the halves. You might get forced into it through lack of other playables but then your deck is probably pretty bad. You can get some good value out of this card and it has an awful lot of fairly subtle flexibility but for what must be considered a gold removal spell it is actually a bit worse than plain old Terminate. When you want something dead you want cheap, no frills reliability more than a wide array of near miss options. I will most certainly be testing this as one of the flagship fuse cards in the hope it stays in the A cube but I really feel that it is ultimately a B cube quality spell.

Flesh / Blood 0.5 (C cube)

I am assuming the RG bit is Fling style aspect in which case it is a fairly powerful and undercost effect that has some strong applications in a couple of decks. Sadly the BG part of this card is really situational and massively overpriced. I am not sure you would ever really want the BG half in any deck and would only find yourself using it in the rarest of occasions which is a shame as the RG bit is almost good enough on its own.

Give / Take 0.1 (C cube)

More of an honorary slot for being novel as this card shouldn't see any play. It is all a little pricey let alone situational, risky and hard to really abuse with it being sorcery speed. One of the very worst cards when fused, for 4UG you may draw three cards if you have a dork in play (please don't utterly ruin me with instant removal).

Profit / Loss - no slot

Two words for why this gets no slot - Zealous Persecution.

Protect / Serve - no slot

Very unexciting combat trick, both overpriced and totally unwanted by all archetypes.

Ready / Willing 0.2 (C cube)

Very overpriced and highly situational on both halves, not to mention very colour restrictive. If it were not for having a use as a three mana mass removal counterspell there would be no place for this in my cube.

Toil / Trouble 0.8 (B cube)

One of the more interesting cards in the fuse collection as it has fairly playable generic effects that both work very well when fused and work towards different ends independently that could be desirable in the same deck. I am not sure this would have many homes as it is still a touch on the pricey side but I suspect it would rarely be a massive let down when you draw it.

Turn / Burn 1.7 (B cube)

Another card I will test but suspect it a little underpowered overall. With Far / Away both halves are of comparable use while with this Burn is vastly more useful than Turn. Turn is situational and fairly expensive to use on its own but does very reliably allow you to kill things when you do fuse, far more so than with Far / Away. Overall they are very similar cards but with burn being slightly more broadly useful than bounce Izzet seems to again be the king of split cards.

Wear / Tear 1.4 (B cube)

This could be almost a red Disenchant as it is totally playable in red decks without white mana and fairly easy to splash a bit of white into a mana base. A white deck would not play it in the same way as killing enchantments is a less maindeckable effect making the card often dead to either lack of targets and red mana. Better than Disenchant in a RW deck but probably not getting a slot on that fact alone and will need to prove itself as useful to the red mage as well.

Top 5 cards from Dragon's Maze

5. Aetherling
4. Sin Collector
3. Notion Thief
2. Ral Zarek
1. Blood Scrivener

I think Varolz, the Scar Striped and Voice of Resurgence will make more waves and be more powerful than some of this top five however they will appear in far fewer archetypes. It is certainly very close between them all for the coverted 4th and 5th slots. Overall the set is not especially powerful and has far less to offer the cube than Return to Ravnica which is surprising for a third gold set although less so for a small set.

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