Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Revised Reviews: Colourless Creatures

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Emrakul, the Eons Torn 3.0
Power 3.8
Support 2.3

The single most powerful card ever printed in Magic but at an appropriate price. Despite the power of the card, and its utility, in a cube without Tolarian Academy 15 mana is beyond prohibitive for seeing play in almost every kind of deck. Green ramp decks that dip into the B/C cube can support him however I have found most of those too narrow for the A cube and general drafting. There are however many ways to cheat Emrakul into play, some for just a turn, some without casting him, but all very effective at ending the game. Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, Oath of Druids and Shelldock Isle are the best ways to Emrakul someone although others exist. While a boon for reanimator decks the graveyard reshuffle effect is of great use in some decks, most notably Oath ones as it is all to easy to mill yourself to death or effectively do so by putting all your outs in the bin. Often fragile decks like this would need to pack a card dedicated to dealing with this problem however Emrakul offers this as a little bonus while also being your win condition. His other application is to be Erratic Explosion bait although he is not the best in this role and so needs to serve other purposes in the deck to be used as such. He can be rather cheesy and dull to lose to and is inconsistent at best but is really the sort of card that should be in a cube and so I do not begrudge him his slot, certainly not as much as Blightsteel Colossus who is even more tedious with Tinker. There are very few answers to Emrakul and often the sorcery speed ones fail to be helpful such as Journey to Nowhere, Wrath of God, Duplicant. Being a legend he is also vulnerable to clone effects and Karakas which at least make him more interesting than Progenitus. Emrakul is powerful enough to merit an inclusion of Channel despite it having very few other uses.

Blightsteel ColossusBlightsteel Colossus 2.6
Power 2.9
Support 2.4

This is one of the few creatures capable of one shotting people regardless of their life total. It also comes on the back of an easily Tinkerable artifact that is hard to remove from play and not outside the realms of being hard cast. Like most of the really really obscene power creatures Blightsteel won't sit about in graveyards to be cheaply recurred which removes him from a few archetypes but he still sees similar amounts of play to the various other mega fatties like Sundering Titan, Inkwell Leviathan, Emrakul, Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Worldspine Wurm. Despite not being a legend and also having indestructible Blightsteel is far easier to deal with that Emrakul. Most white and lots of black removal deals with him as well as blue bounce and countermagic being effective. As with so many of the extreme fatties it is red and green who most struggle against cards like this. The infect is somewhat of a mixed blessing and as such Darksteel Colossus is very close in power level to this dork. Typically it takes two hits from Blightseel to kill someone as you only need to throw two toughness in the way to survive it even when you are on low life which is not the case with Darksteel.  It is very rare to actually get the one shot kill off, even in decks like Sneak Attack than should be able to haste him up. Infect is somewhat less important when blocking is going on as well as very few other creatures are regenerators, have more than 11 toughness or are themselves indestructible. It is far more likely to work against you by resetting their undying creatures than doing something over that which Darksteel would achieve. There is too little in the way of proliferate and other infect cards in the cube to enhance the value of infect on this fatty and so it is conceivable that Darksteel will replace this. Only the most extreme of ramp decks will play this in an attempt to hard cast it leaving Blightsteel found mostly with Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, Oath of Druids and most notably, Tinker. 

Sundering Titan
Sundering Titan 2.3
Power 2.7
Support 2.1

Back in the day this was one of the big Tinker and Reanimate targets. There were less serious monsters with come into play effects and less non-basic dual lands. The dorks agro decks could make also used to look pitiful against a 7/10 where are now they can easily block or race it. Sundering Titan has slipped from a mainstay threat for cheating into play into a more niche disruption threat. It still sees a reasonable amount of play but a lot of this is due to him working well with a lot of the good cheaty cards like Flash, Sneak Attack, Show and Tell, Tinker, Reanimate and Goblin Welder rather than him being especially good with any one. Sadly how good he is is almost entirely down to how many colours your opponent is, if you are against a mono player he is really awful while he is usually game over for a three or more colour deck. The more colours they are playing the longer he stays a powerful card to have enter the battlefield and the less likely they will be able to recover from it if and when he does. Being only colourless mana he is still hard castable in the heavy artifact ramp decks and sometimes comes in to bolster the threat count but never before Wurmcoil Engine or Myr Battlesphere. It is the lack of any evasion such as the seemingly reasonable trample that makes this such an awkward card to try and win with and so you do have to kind of view it as disruption more than a threat. It is nice that it is one of few cards that helps keep the power of the many coloured decks more in check. It is also highly abusable with Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth as you get to save your swamps while killing any land you like on the other side of the board. Titan is also more robust in the face of bounce and exile than a lot of value cards such as Wurmcoil Engine. A useful option to have both in draft, deck building and as a sideboard option and a perfectly acceptable, if not optimal, main deck card for the right archetypes. Sundering Titan is very fat and has a big effect on the game, just be very wary that he is awful at racing against any sort of weenie deck and ends up being a very expensive and not that helpful wall. 

Myr EnforcerMyr Enforcer 0.8 (B cube)
Power 2.2
Support 0.2

Very powerful in the various affinity builds but otherwise pretty unplayable. Affinity as I have mentioned is like a tribal deck in the cube (of which elves, goblins, faeries, merfolk and soldiers have all been included at some point and all still reside in the B cube for occasional use). Most of the non-creature spells used in affinity would be cube mainstays even without an affinity option and so with half the archetype already present it is fairly reasonable to include the rest despite being so narrow. Affinity is one of the most variable aggressive decks being able to use almost any combination of colours they desire, and it is completely different to play against than other agro decks, both of which factors add more variety to the cube. Goblins and elves are more consistent tribal decks but far fewer cards are cube worthy on their own. For draft purposes you want to be using all of your cube if you include an affinity archetype otherwise you will not get key components and it will be too unreliable leading to people not picking the cards and leaving loads of dead picks in packs.

Myr BattlesphereMyr Battlesphere 3.3
Power 3.4
Support 3.2

The happy ball of dorks looks pretty ridiculous and seems a bit all over the place to be such a cube mainstay however it has risen to the lofty rank of second best hardcastable colourless fatty. Given Wurmcoil is the big name the quirky Sphere is doing pretty well for itself. It does nothing especially well however manages to do most things pretty well. It is nice and tough making it quite hard to kill despite being an artifact. Spot removal only helps limit the damage cause by this guy as he makes a little army. Unopposed he is a brutal two turn clock and when faced with blockers he has a lot of verstility in attacks protecting his army or getting some evasive damage through. It is one of the best all round cards for combo decks to cheat into play as it works with every single effect bar Natural Order and does so with some reasonable extra synergies. Seven is also just about a reasonable hard casting cost for a colourless card that can be powered out more easily with cards like Grand Architect and things that offer abundant colourless like Thran Dynamo and Ancient Tomb. Battlesphere is played as a top end threat in some control decks, it is a mainstay in artifact ramp decks and it shows up fairly often in combo decks as well. It is one of the most widely playable fatties and thoroughly deserves its cube slot. 

Triskelion 2.0 (B cube)
Power 2.2
Support 1.8

The Triskelion has just about survived the power creep and has managed to get more synergy and applications as time goes on. There are several reasons this dork is so popular. Firstly it offers direct damage to non-red colours and creature kill to blue and green. It some extra value even when killed. It has a decent body that acts as reasonable threat if not needed for removal. It can do a lot of burst damage which can be useful for killing planeswalkers, attack in for 4 then remove the counters for the extra 3. He has good synergy with lots of cards including proliferators, modular, Mikeaus the Lunarch, Steel Overseer, Treasure Mage, Goblin Welder, Tinker, Smokestack and so forth. As previously mentioned 6 mana artifacts are much easier to cast than coloured spells and so the triskelion often finds himself looking very favourable compared to their three drop. A great all-rounder offering lots of flexibility and the ability to get card advantage or tempo, often both. Despite his uses and synergies a 6 mana card wants to be serious, you want it to dominate the game and offer you a good chance of winning. Compared to the power of more modern 6 drops this dork falls well short and will only really see play in decks that ramp mana really fast so that he is facing off against 3 and 4 drops not 5 and 6 drops. Green would sometimes dig out Triskelion as it is both light on removal and top quality six drops of its own for things like Birthing Pod. Despite his increasing applications and versatility over time he has decreased in the number of archetypes suitable for him and now sees too little play to keep and A cube slot. 

Wurmcoil EngineWurmcoil Engine 4.0
Power 4.0
Support 4.0

Wurmcoil is one of the very top tier of power level for monsters alongside Titans, Baneslayer and so forth. A very hard to deal with threat that offers huge tempo swings once he gets involved in combat, the wurmcoil is found most frequently in more control style decks as a main finisher. He offers less versatility than a Battlesphere or even a Triskelion but you get a lot more for your mana. Six is also much much more playable a casting cost in most kinds of control deck than seven is and makes it more consistently castable. Jund colours are really ill equipped to deal with the Engine efficiently and are generally pretty pleased to do better than a three for one against it, not to mention a life swing. White can exile with relative ease and blue can bounce or counter thus making the Engine less threatening than most planeswalkers to those colours. Regardless of what the archetypes are, if four or more decks are made from the cube you can be pretty certain one will contain the Wurmcoil, it is just too easy to play in too many decks and is clearly above the curve in power level. It is just a bit of a shame the card acts as a bit of a colour hoser, if only Crumble exiled like Swords to Plowshares! Wurmcoil is powerful enough to be played in decks cheating creatures into play despite being vastly cheaper than most of the other threats. It does have the surprisingly frequently called upon ease of being hard cast even in combo decks.

DuplicantDuplicant 1.8 (B cube)
Power 1.9
Support 1.7

Duplicant is very very effective spot removal that gives you card advantage and a nice tempo boost however it is vastly expensive compared to other spot removal cards for creatures. Exile is very useful against almost all of the more resiliant dorks and coming from a colourless source avoids pesky protection effects. Duplicant is good for red, green and blue decks as they either lack removal or struggle against high toughness and recursion effects. White on the other hand barely ever touches the card with far better options of its own. Duplicant is the best thing a red deck can do when facing down a Wurmcoil Engine. You cannot rely on Duplicant to be a useful threat as you might not have targets to imprint or simply have to kill a 1/1. As such you are playing a 6 mana card that depends a lot on what your opponent is playing and doing as to how good it will be. If you are playing it to solve certain problems you cannot just throw it down when you hit six mana as you will then lose to something like a Worldspine Wurm later on. It will typically clog up your early hand as well as your late hand and be little better than a Flame Tongue Kavu or Skinrender much of the time. Oddly Brittle Effigy is the main competition for this card however I think neither quite cuts the mustard in the present cube format I have going. 

Precursor GolemPrecursor Golem 2.3
Power 2.6
Support 2.1

This dork sits a bit in limbo being too cheap and weak to compare against the juicy top end like Wurmcoil and Battlesphere while being too much of just a threat to fit in with the cheaper more utility cards. I find the Precursor Golem winds up as generic filler or something to smooth out a curve, all be it a very long and high curve as found in artifact ramp decks. There are some quite nice synergies involving the Golem however there are also some big risks associated with it. Getting it killed with a Searing Blaze or even a Lightning Helix is really brutal however Tinkering him away leaving yourself with a couple of safer 3/3s is quite pleasant. He is a bit expensive to really try and abuse for his synergies and tends to perform one of two roles, being a mid range threat that will come down a turn quicker than the top end or being used as a good way to clog up a more serious ground assault. Typically he is played in heavy artifact decks as most colours have more reliable and comparably powered five drops of their own. When I pay five mana at sorcery speed I really don't like all that investment to be easily undone by a wide selection of very cheap removal spells from most colours. The more ways you have to sac off the main dork the safe a play he is however 5 mana for two 3/3s is a lot lot less exciting that three instead. 

Lodestone GolemLodestone Golem 2.4
Power 2.3
Support 2.5

I rather like this card however without Mishra's Workshop or the other artifact based power cards it is significantly less powerful than he once was. Back in the day it was not uncommon to flop this out turn one and then win using it without doing much else. These days he still has several homes and good uses but far less consistently comes out before it is too late to recover from it. As creature removal is also on the increase in decks and he has only three toughness and is an artifact it is very easy for most decks to kill him. That said he is a powerful threat that is very easy to cast and will almost always disrupt to some extent without any further investment from you. It is not something like Winter Orb that you were relying on the disruption from to be able to win the game with, instead he just throws a spanner in the works while threatening a serious beating. For such a bargain all round package it is something you are happy to flop down and let it do its thing regardless of whether it eats removal or goes the distance. The homes this guy has are all rather different which is also testament to a good card with clever design (assuming it is not just over powered...). It goes in affinity from time to time depending on how much mana they are likely to have quickly and if there is any other disruption on their mana base in the deck. It goes in the big ramp artifact decks that are typically red and/or blue as you want to be able to do something useful and synergic with your deck before your top end power spells. If you have too many of your 3 - 5 drops as more ramp in such decks and not enough action you can roll to lots of things. He also finds homes in some agro decks that are also disrupting the mana base or have burst mana. White weenie rarely plays him as it has its own power four drops but it is not bad in the Armageddon style versions. Black agro decks also quite like him if they are a bit more Sinkhole orientated. The final place I have seen him putting in good work is in GW denial decks where he doubles up as more mana disruption and a threat which is important in decks that are stretched very thin with little card advantage in them. In the mana denial decks he is very much there to bolster the effect of cards like Winter Orb, Tangle Wire, Sphere of Resistance etc and is second rate to them because it is that much slower to get out. Lodestone Golem is far better against control and combo decks than he is other agro decks as with only three toughness he is easy to kill in combat and usually trades for cards that already got some value and/or cost less than 4 to get out. It is also the case that most agro decks will already have a better board position than those decks playing this by the time they cast it most of the time. 

Solemn Simulacrum
Solemn Simulacrum 3.1
Power 2.9
Support 3.4

Crum is used in many decks for many of his different perks. He is one of the only sensible ways most colours can increase their land count and so frequently finds play in all kinds of mono coloured control decks. Crum is doubly good with a lot of good engine cards as he has both a come into play effect and a when this dies effect. These engine cards include Goblin Welder, Recurring Nightmare and Birthing Pod. Although one of the best possible speed bumps you can throw down Crum often comes a bit late to the party and competes with more proactive, more powerful four drops rather than the other speed bumps which tend to cost two or three mana. You almost need to ramp into casting him and given that one of his primary functions is to ramp you  it can seem like a lot of effort. You really want to have things on six to  ramp into so as to make Crum worth his slot. That or abuse him in an engine. You also need a reasonable count of basic land in your deck to usefully run a Crum which makes him less appealing in three or more coloured decks. As planeswalkers continue to grow in number and application and dominate the cube meta you need your stuff that gets in the way to come out before you get to walker mana. You want your four and five drops to be planeswalkers or offensive monsters that are good at taking down planeswalkers. Even so a three for one that ramps, fixes and offers some tempo is a good deal at four mana and still has its places in the cube. 

Frogmite 1.0 (B cube)
Power 2.4
Support 0.3

The frog is ever so slightly more playable than Myr Enforcer. Not enough to up his rating as he is still one of the narrowest cards in the cube. In affinity decks frog always feels like the lynch pin monster as it both benefits from your other affinity enablers while being cheap enough to also help reduce subsequent affinity spells. Frog could be several times better than enforcer but as they basically only ever see play in the same deck and are almost always both included. I have tried to make an artifact based Birthing Pod deck trying to abuse Frogmite and Myr Enforcer but it wasn't very good. It needed more card quality and worth 5 and 8 drop dorks to fetch. As such there is only the one broad archetype in which you can play this making it way too narrow for any cube without full support of the various affinity builds. Even with the required support you will still find many a draft with no one playing the deck where affinity cards are consistent last picks. It is a very worthy archetype in terms of power and fun but dilutes a cube a lot to include.   

Molten-Tail MasticoreMolten-Tail Masticore 3.2
Power 3.4
Support 3.0

This directly replaced original Masticore. While the older version is less situational, the sheer extra power from his newer cousin easily outweighs that. Half the mana per damage on the shooting ability and able to hit players makes this a frightening finisher while the 4/4 body of original Masticore was starting to look unimpressive and too slow to get the job done before the upkeep ruined you. Great in any deck able to produce lots of mana or desiring of a discard outlet, provided they have at least a handful of creatures for use as ammunition. To get value out of this card does require far more mana than the original four to cast hence a need for utilizing the discard drawback or access to an abundance of mana. He crops up in all sorts of decks and is always an unpleasant surprise to face. The added in-built synergy with the ability to discard monsters for extra ammunition makes the card more interesting to play with too offering options and difficult choices. Most commonly found in green and blue decks as they both lack ways to kill creatures and have their various ways to power up mana for cards like this. The original Masticore was very much an anti weenie deck card being fat enough to take any out in combat and being able to cheaply kill the most annoying of the weenies. Molten-Tail on the other hand works fairly equally well against all decks. He provides much needed reach in games that are clogged up, has potent removal able to take out most flavours of dork with relative ease while being a hard to remove threat. Curving out into this guy is not nearly as powerful as drawing him late into the game where you aklways have regen mana up, have way more ammo in the bin to get shooty and likely enough mana to get shooty twice in one turn.

MetalworkerMetalworker 3.0
Power 3.8
Support 2.2

This card has awesome power in the right deck and is about the most mana you can make from a single card in the cube. Costing colourless mana means it is very easy to make this on turn one or two and follow it up with something highly unfair. For a long time it was this card alone that kept Lightening Greaves in the cube as they both sped you up and protected the valuable Worker. The classic play is to cast him off a Mishra's Workshop on turn one and follow it up by revealing a hand full of fat artifacts and flopping out a turn two Nastysteel Colossus backed up with Wurmcoils and other treats should they be able to deal with the first threat. The reason I give a relatively low rating despite being one of the most abusable cards is because it is restrictive in deck building and requires a good 50% of your deck to be artifacts to be of much use as well as needing some expensive things to make use of all the mana. It is also a poxy 1/2 and both a creature and an artifact which are the two easiest permanent types to kill leaving you with a very vulnerable dork that you really want alive in order to do your things. A 1/2 is pretty pathetic in combat too. All in all Metal Worker is somewhat risky and vulnerable however not as ruinous to have killed as a Precursor Golem as it only costs three. If it is not killed and you have not had an awful draw, assuming your deck is built correctly, winning should become very easy.

Palladium MyrPalladium Myr 2.5
Power 2.4
Support 2.6

I threw this creature in fully expecting to take it back out again after one or two outings. While the Myr is significantly less abusable than Metalworker it is a far more rounded card that demands very little of your decks build. A ramp of 2 is still quite a big jump and has no prerequisites to obtain nor gives away any free information. In addition to this the extra power is significant and makes the Myr useful, if not powerful, as a vanilla dork. I have seen this played in a wide variety of mid range or control decks in all non-green decks that would never be able to consider including a Metalworker. It has even featured in aggressive blue decks which crave extra mana and have synergies with artifacts. The Myr is far less powerful than Worker but since its inclusion in the cube has seen slightly more play. I find that I want to play it in decks that I want to play a Solemn Simulacrum in despite being reasonably different types of card. Having the option of both is nice as you can tailor which you play to your curve or gain redundancy any play both. Worn Powerstone is a better ramp card as it is more robust however it has no other utility making it far more frequently useless. Compared to ramp effects like Metalworker, Mana Vault and Gilded Lotus you are really not too fussed about having your minor 2 mana ramp spell killed and so his vulnerability is not so much of an issue. All in all a nice rounded little card that offers something desirable to all the non-green colours lacking in good ramp.  

Myr Retriever
Myr Retriever 1.8
Power 1.6
Support 2.0

This little guy fits in lots of decks and offers a great deal of utility to them in a selection of ways. In affinity he is another body to equip, a great sacrificial artifact and often enough a second copy of the artifact you need to kill them. In big red he is a good early chump blocker and abusable with Goblin Welder as you get setup. The price paid for this wide array of utility is that he is not outstanding at any of the things you want to do. As an early speed bump you may well not get value from his recursion effect, as an eternal witness you require a way to kill him off, as a body he is about as weak as you can be. This meant he was often cut for more dedicated cards in decks with specific aims or needs. I have even seen this guy in white weenie and red deck wins when they go for a heavy artifact bent and versions of mono blue tempo decks too. While a non essential card he allows much more ability to draft some of the more risky archetypes that require you to get specific cards to be viable. Cube is the format for recursion effects to shine and so this dork is at his best in cube although still not exactly impressive. A useful little support card that winds up in every kind of deck, all be it infrequently, that requires a tailored deck to be worthwhile.  

Arcbound Ravager
Arcbound Ravager 1.2 (B cube)
Power 2.7
Support 0.4

A great little utility dork that becomes rather unfair in the right deck. Sadly those decks are all quite samey and involve many of the same narrow cards. It used to be the case that you could never come out ahead in combat if you were facing down a ravager in the right deck but with the changes to damage on the stack the Ravager has lost some of his bite. Inkmoth Nexus has made the Ravager all-in a little more robust but hardly something to aim for. Ravager is more playable outside the purer affinity decks than Frogmite and Enforcer however has always been rather underwhelming in them. He is very much a card that needs support to be good and also the kind of card that demands you go all in on him often. It is one of the more effective ways to sacrifice artifacts however offers little to combo decks beyond that, only agro decks and so is rarely used in combo or control. 

Phyrexian RevokerPhyrexian Revoker 1.5
Power 1.6
Support 1.4

Typically played in the aggressive artifact decks like the affinity and arcbound guys but less of a mainstay acting rather as filler. He makes up for this by seeing play in various other agro decks that have no artifact theme simply as an answer to one or more problem cards. When building a deck it can become quite apparent that certain cards will wreak you or be impossible to deal with. While this guy is not a powerhouse in terms of aggression he is a well priced generic two drop that also doubles up as disruption. Most decks will have a few good targets, usually planeswalkers. It is not unlike Meddling Mage which was still decent in the cube when combo and control ruled however Revoker is far easier to include in decks and is able to be reactive as well as proactive. If you don't know what you are playing against Meddling Mage is pretty useless where as Revoker still tends to offer some value. Compared to Pithing Needle he is incredibly vulnerable and should not be relied upon as a long term out to something awkward like a planeswalker or a big equipment, As such you will always find the Pithing Needle getting the place of this card in combo and control decks. A great sideboard card for the purer agro decks like white weenie, mono black agro and red deck wins but a little too low power to be demanding a main deck slot in a solid deck list.

SpellskiteSpellskite 3.5
Power 3.2
Support 3.8

I have been highly impressed with this card although frequently frustrated by how much is it ruining me from the other side of the table. It is one of very few cards to be printed recently that has helped most combo decks. Being an artifact and a creature is of extra advantage to Spellskite as it allows it to protect more permanent types from targeted removal and effects in addition to the usual benefits of having cheap artifacts or chump blocking speed bumps. Oddly it ended up taking the slot of Lightening Greaves which often wound up being more useful to protect things than for giving them haste. While the Skite does not have the haste advantage of the Greaves for cards commonly wanting protection such as Goblin Welder and Metalworker it doesn't give a window for instant removal and also buys a lot of time against aggressive strategies by being a decent wall. To add insult to all this, rather like Bird of Paradise you think it has done enough damage to you and then it picks up some piece of equipment and starts killing you. This is a great card for any combo deck where this protects something valuable, great in most control decks and fairly decent in affinity style and blue based skies agro decks. There are lots of spells and effects beyond removal you cannot use well when playing against this due to it being so disruptive. You cannot cast a Rancor for example without turning their wall into a half decent threat. 

Arcbound Worker
Arcbound Worker 0.9 (B Cube)
Power 1.3
Support 0.6 

This little fellow does see very occasional play outside of pure affinity decks as he is a reasonable way to bolster any aggressive deck that wants a decent artifact count for whatever reason. He is very nice filler but filler is basically all he is. A dork to equip and artifact to boost your other things, a one drop to smooth your curve and something that offers some trickery and value when sacrificed. He will never win games on his own though, he is just there to support and bolster your overrall strategy. It is cards like this that hold synergic decks together but cannot be rated highly on their own. It is very rare to find Arcbound Worker not paired with Arcbound Ravager as they are quite similar cards used to perform many of the same roles that support each other very well. Even without damage on the stack it is quite hard to come out ahead in a big combat where both the Arcbound dorks were involved on the other side. 

Signal Pest
Signal Pest 1.0
Power 1.4
Support 0.6

The Pest is along very similar lines to the Worker in that it sees some play here and there but is primarily based in affinity decks. Also in all his homes he is mostly filler, support and smoothing. He lacks any perks for dying but makes up for this by being a much more relevant threat on the board. Evasion as well as battle cry make him great with equipment and vastly improves all your other cheap artifact creature enablers. Mostly you end up dead to this guy and a Cranial Plating after you struggled to kill the Ornithopter... A low power card simply by being a one drop but surprisingly pesky and not to be underrated as a threat when facing it. Marginally better than Worker but all the same sort of jazz so they generally find themselves together in decks. All the obvious things apply to Signal Pest in that it is better the higher your creature count is, therefore making cards like Genesis Chamber and Thopter Foundry more appealing. It is also better the more things you have to take advantage of its evasion such as equipment, sadly having lots of both is hard to pull off in a deck and means you have little of anything else. The main problem with Pest is that it does nothing on its own, which is normally a complete no no for a cube card however one mana spells, especially artifacts are far more forgiveable. It seems like it might be strong in a weenie token deck outside of just affinity but despite its cheapness it isn't powerful enough and remains a very narrow card.

Hex Parasite
Hex Parasite 1.6
Power 1.5 
Support 1.8

This dork does get played with all the other narrow affinity cards however the Parasite also has secured homes in a number of non artifact agro decks due to his utility. Planeswalkers are a real pain for most colours to deal with and this is about the easiest answer to them that there is for any of them. It can be a little mana intensive to kill some of the really loyal walkers but this can sometimes be broken up into chunks or sometimes just used as a deterrent. Unless someone can find an answer to the Parasite they are unlikely to waste a walker by laying it into him even if they can get an activation first (assuming the walker can't just kill it). Most commonly played in blue decks which can Trinket Mage it up and struggle most with walkers in play. The pump effect is not to be sniffed at either as it can come out of nowhere for the kill, I have ditched my own walkers before to turn the loyalty into power for this critter. A decent number of cards use counters for which this guy is just a real pain against shutting down things you hand't even thought about in construction or your strategy. Suddenly your Tanglewire does nothing and your level up monsters are rubbish etc. The most fun I have had with the Parasite however is resetting the persist on my Glen Elandra Archmage to soft lock my opponent out of the game. A very quirky little card with low power but lots of applications and synergies to make up for this. It feels a lot like it has taken the role of Gorilla Shaman, back in the day it was all Moxes and Sol Rings for which the Gorilla would make efficient work of, now it is all planeswalkers and counters over which this little critter affords you much control. Playable in any colour to good effect however always worth trying to fit some ways to get black mana into your deck so as to be able to maximize its flexibility. 

Ornithopter 0.5 (B cube)
Power 0.8
Support 0.3

The perfect example of a narrow card in that it does basically nothing on its own. I have only seen this used outside of affinity in an Enduring Renewal combo deck that was horrible and lost consistently. In affinity it is a staple as it both powers up your metalcraft and affinity cards perfectly and then turns into one of the more fearsome threats once you have a Ravager or a Cranial Plating in play. I like how this card has been in so many sets and seemed so unplayable for so long has become both useful and a scary threat and is one of a few elite monsters that were printed before Ice Age and can still serve a use in the cube. The only deck in which this card really shines is of course affinity, like so many of the cards in this list. Unlike so many which are the best cheap thing available to pad out the deck the Ornithopter is a real powerhouse. I say this with no hint of sarcasm or irony, in almost every build of affinity possible this remains one of the very best creatures. It is so easy to make it very serious due to the flying and support cards yet it is one of the best things you can power up with in the early game. 

Memnite 0.5 (B cube)
Power 0.5
Support 0.5

I vastly overrated this card when it was first printed going on about the most impressive power to mana ration of any creature... While it can nibble in for a few points of damage as well as being an early enabler like Ornithopter it is vastly worse later in the game where lack of evasion make it basically useless beyond a sacrificial chump. I still love the card in concept but have yet to find it ever be powerful enough to warrant costing you a card despite the mana cost being so perfect. It has found some uses outside of affinity being used to recur Vengevine quickly and reliably or to give some extra versatility to Ranger of Eos. I seem to remember quite a cute RW weenie deck that tried to abuse battle cry mechanics and as many cheap dorks as it could get out using this and Signal Pest however it was a bit too low average card power and a bit too optimistic to be anything other than novel.

No comments:

Post a Comment