Monday 5 January 2015

Fate Reforged Preliminary Review

Yasova Dragon Claw 5.5

A 4/2 trample for 2G is not the worst deal in the world and this quirky human comes with bonus inbuilt Threaten each turn. This is certainly good enough to see cube play however we are very much now in a place where there are so many cube worthy magic cards that a lot comes down to personal preference or the themes in your cube. I will certainly try this card out as it is quite hard to judge on paper alone. It has many qualities and lots of potential however it has a few awkward aspects to counterbalance this. The big one is that you only get 2 toughness for your three mana which can really hurt your tempo when you stand to get no free value as you do with Kitchen Finks or Trinket Mage. A simple Arc Trail will ruin the aggressive turn one Elf into this turn two and that is something to be wary of with cards like this. A little like with Boon Satyr, you can flop this down on turn two or three to smooth your curve but more often you want to make it later when you can use it more fully. When you have six mana you can make Yasova and threaten right away giving helping to ensure you do not get blown out with cheap removal. Another drawback to Yasova is that she is basically gold as you ideally want access to the ability. Certainly it is a flexible and convenient style of gold card but it is still more restrictive than the afore mentioned Boon Satyr. Yasova is aggessive early, has the potential to dominate a late game and offers some decent synergy options. A few years ago Yasova would have have been a lock in for the cube but now, with such fierce competition from other great cards, she will have to earn a main cube slot.

Valorous Stance 7

Not an especially exciting card but a real gem none the less. Comparable removal and combat tricks have been played in the cube and so this offering an option on either makes it a real winner. This is better than a lot of the two mana RtR Charms and it is just one colour! Usually cards like this are a cost such that neither aspect of the card is that powerful compared to cards with less utility, see Izzet Charm for two or Careful Study, Shock and Spell Pierce for one. Valorous Stance compared to Reprisal seems altogether rather more reasonable. Mostly I suspect this will be included for the removal option so as to make your deck more robust however I think you will wind up using both portions of the card fairly frequently. Combat tricks are good, counterspelling removal effects are good and they are all the better when you don't have to dedicate a card to having that option available. All the very best cube effects of this nature all have other uses so as to offset the situational aspect and Valorous Stance does this exceptionally well. It is good enough to be viable in aggro, mid-range and control decks which is not something many cards can boast.

Sandsteppe Mastodon 2

Wolfir Silverheart this is not. While you can flop this out as a 10/10 with no other dorks around it is still just bad compared to alternatives. Seven mana cards should do a whole lot more than this even if this does seem powerful in a nominal sort of way.

Ugin, the Spirit Dragon 7.5

Somewhere between a Karn Liberated and a Nicol Bolas Planeswalker. Lots of power for lots of mana but being so versatile and so colourless I suspect this top end planeswalker will see quite a lot of play, certainly more than Nicol Bolas. Lots of starting loyalty with a strong and readily useful +2 ability allow you to safely, efficiently and quickly grow this beast. If things are a bit rougher you have a panic button mode which should leave you with Ugin in play and deal with everything else. Indeed, the minus X ability alone on this should see All is Dust removed to the B cube and getting very little play thereafter. Ugin even has a more useful ultimate than most other walkers. He should be able to close out games with the top two abilities but the ultimate offers far more in the way of outs and power to Ugin. It is fairly easy to get Ugin to 10 or more loyalty and if you are in burn range or need a specific card the -10 can help on both accounts. It gives you a huge influx of resources and will be very hard to beat. All in all there are no downsides to Ugin beyond his immense cost, he is well rounded, offers lots of utility and lots of power. If you think you will get to 8 mana with your deck Ugin is going to be a strong candidate for it. For one more mana you get a lot more power than you do with Karn, for normal decks that one extra mana will be very slow to come by however for any sort of ramp deck the difference will be fairly negligible.

Ethereal Ambush 4

Five mana for a pair of 2/2s, even at instant speed, is not enough for the cube however the potential for those 2/2s to be creatures you can "morph" in rather increases the value of the card. I still think it is a bit slow, expensive and situational to see play but it is none the less an interesting card. There are some silly combos with manifest effects as well such as Phyrexian Dreadnaught (which I assume works) for which blue and green are good colour hosts.

Soul Summons 4

Much less exciting than Ethereal Ambush this cheaper more basic version of the card is likely going to be the go to spell for and manifest synergy simply because it is so cheap. A 2/2 for two is also acceptable enough that even with just some synergy with the card you may play it in a white weenie style deck. Not powerful but doing a specific thing as cheaply as we are likely to see it.

Gurmag Angler 2

This is likely better than Tombstalker now as it can be reduced to one mana and because it is a zombie but Tombstalker has not seen any cube play in quite a few years now. I think this is overall to narrow for the cube however it is exactly the kind of card that will slot perfectly into some synergy/tribal based aggro decks.

Jeskai Sage 6

While not an obvious bomb this new incarnation of Survielling Sprite / Alchemist's Apprentice seems like it does the job you want it to better than the others. Blue has very little in the way of cheap creatures making cards like Thassa and Master of Waves much harder to abuse as well as a more general difficulty in creating tempo decks. All the good cheap blue dorks either offer pathetic stats or they are just to low power compared to the other colours dorks. This card being more than a 1/1 actually has a relevant board presence beyond being a chump blocker and the fact that it is not as powerful as a Tarmogoyf is well offset by the replacement card you get when it dies. Alone this card is very average however it does a huge amount of work to make the strong blue three and four drop tempo cards that much better and more viable. Previously Looter-il Kor was about the best thing you could hope to play on turn two in a (non-merfolk) tempo blue deck and for that reason I would expect this to be a mainstay aggro blue card for some time to come. Prowess is at its best in blue decks as well which helps this little critter too.

Soulflayer 6.5

Another better than Tombstalker card but for rather different reasons than Gurmag Angler. Soulflayer has great utility, scaling and abuses that Tombstalker lacked, it is just a 5/5 flier. Soulflayer is cheaper and has the potential to be far far better. Haste, indestructible, hexproof, doublestrike and lifelink are all obnoxious things you can give Soulflayer that can make it far more troublesome than just a 5/5 flier. Trample and flying are also very strong for it and any other ability is a perk. Many of these abilities can be found on widely playable creatures and sometimes several on just one. The humble Vampire Nighthawk alone makes Soulflayer look very good and that is a low end outcome for the card. You can simply throw Soulflayer into a midrangy dork deck where there are some nice abilities for it to pick up and a reasonable chance it is costing 4 or less fairly early in the game. You can also go a bit more focused on the card and include slightly more awkward critters with the right key words and a heavier discard theme. Overall this is a versatile minion that can be nutty and will never be awful while also being a card that rewards skilled deck design.

Whisperwood Elemental 5.5

While a very powerful card there is fierce competition in green on the five slot from both planeswalker and creatures. Whisperwood offers incremental value much like a planeswalker as well as a little bit of security against mass removal effects. Not only does it put things onto the board and offer reasonable tempo but with the manifest mechanic and a half decent creature count you should also be getting decent card advantage as well which is a much more exciting and rare ability in green. The downsides of the card are that it is slow to do that much and is quite a weak body for the mana itself. You can even have it killed before your end step and gain no advantage at all from it. Despite being a creature it does feel like it compares more to the various five mana planeswalkers in green than it does to the other five mana creatures. As with all manifest the Elemental is improved with library manipulation however being an ongoing (hopefully) effect it will scale better with Sylvan Library and such than Soul Summons etc. The verdict is that it is comfortably powerful enough for the cube but may not see enough play to keep a slot due to the potent alternatives. Master of the Wild Hunt is another card similar to this, offering removal instead of card advantage and protection and having a cheaper cost for a smaller body. The difference between and end step trigger and an unkeep one is huge and makes the Whisperwood a far better card in a vacuum. I am tempted to do a direct swap for the two cards as Master sees very little play these days despite greens lack of removal options. It is a little of an awkward swap as the cards are at different pionts on the curve and can be used for completely different reasons.

Outpost Siege 2

Good options to have on a card however both are a bit pricey for what you get in return. It is unlikely you will have a deck that frequently wants to use both sides of the card and for just one of the abilities you have much better alternatives you can use instead. At three mana this would be vastly more appealing, as it is I suspect it will never see cube play.

Kolaghan, the Storm's Fury 3.5

Powerful but not enough better or different that Falkenrath Aristocrat or Thundermaw Hellkite to merit a cube slot. Dash is a useful mechanic but really I would just rather have haste on my dork when the costs are the same as they are with Kolaghan. A powered up version of battlecry is also nice but again, done better by cheaper more streamlined cards like Hero of Oxid Ridge (who isn't even in the cube himself) and Hellrider.

Shemanic Revelation  3.5

I like the card a lot and imagine it will outperform Sphinx's Revaltion in the right decks however it is narrow and is awful when you don't have a board presence. While green is a little light on card draw effects it prefers to have them on the back of planeswalkers or creatures like Regal Force so that they are not so dead when you cannot effectively draw with them. This also has potential use as redundancy for this kind of effect in a more combo style deck but again, such things are narrow and as such this will never have a permanent A cube slot. It is a whole lot better than Collective Unconcious at least!

Flamerush Rider 3

This is quite an awkward card to review as it is very polar. When it is bad it is very very bad and when it is good it is lovely. With a good attacking board position and something like a Flametongue Kavu that has a great enter the battlefield effect to copy you can wreak people with this, the slightly cheaper dash will really help you to set up and surprise people with it as well. Overall I would say this card is a win more card and despite it being quite fun I cannot see it being a cube mainstay or performing at all consistently.

Sage-Eye Avengers 1

This is so far from the power level of the various other blue six drops that it isn't much worth discussing the various merits of this card. It is good, but not good enough, and it does a thing quite well but the thing it does it a bit late in the day for when this Djinn offers it. No evasion, no protection, no card advantage, not that much of a threat, just some very late to the party tempo.

Palace Siege 0

Both halves of this card are grossly over cost for the effect and neither are that exciting on top of that. This is the worst of the Siege cycle of which none are very good.

Temporal Trespass 6

A good card, likely better than Temporal Mastery however not a bomb card by any means. Eight is a lot to delve, unless you are hitting more than six cards the vast majority of the time then this is quite a lot worse than conventional five mana Time Walks. Delve cards scale poorly with each other and for my money I would rather be Digging Through Time and Cruising for Treasure than Trespassing the Temporal if I felt like I would have a full enough yard to use such cards consistently. I do wonder if a critical mass of top rate delve cards is being reached such that Mental Note style cards are becoming viable A cube cards. The low end of this card is unplayably bad and the top end is not that much more exciting than Temporal Manipulation and Time Warp. Compare that to Dig Through Time which is quite acceptable when you cannot delve hard or at all and is so much better than some thing like a Fact or Fiction when cast for just UU. Self exile ensures the card is hard to abuse but I feel like the delve would have done that anyway for cube at least. Triple blue cost also goes a long way to restricting the applications of the card to the point where I think it will only see play in heavy blue tempo decks that have ways to pitch it to other effects or graveyard based combo decks like reanimator.

Jeskai Infiltrator 1

A cute card that is quite fun and can offer a fair amount of value. The issues with this card are poor stats for the mana, that it is very slow to yield advantage, that there are many other good blue three drops and that it has counter synergy with other creatures which are exactly the kind of decks you might play such a dork. Overall this shouldn't be seeing any play.

Soulfire Grandmaster 6.5

It is fairly hard to go wrong with this card although unless you are also a red mage this is little more than a 2/2 lifelinker. Turning all your Lightning Bolts into Lightning Helix is a cute perk and makes this a decent value and tempo play early. Being able to recur your spells gives this Grandmaster some real late game legs. Although dissimilar in effect and ability I suspect this will feel quite a lot like the level up dorks like Kargan Dragon Lord and Figure of Destiny. Get to six mana with this chap and have a Counterspell or an Incinerate in hand and you have a pretty potent engine on the go. I do consider this a gold card but like Yasova, it is far more flexible and convenient than your typical gold cards, it can be Jeskai, Boros or Azorious and it can get to work if you are stitched for any colour other than white. This card is very potent but it is also somewhat niche. I suspect people will play it more often than it should be included in decks and feel it will frequently be out performed by more humble cards like Young Pyromancer.

Archfiend of Depravity 3.5

I like this dork, it does a powerful thing and it is good threat on top of this. Unfortunately it is not quite cube worthy as the thing it does is both too slow and too situational. Not that many decks need more than two dorks in play to be getting the job done and so this will be far less use most of the time than Shriekmaw. Archfiend gives your opponent time and choices both of which lower the vale of the card.

Temur War Shaman 0

Overcost, slow and frankly just a poor imitation of Whisperwood Elemental.

Lightform 5

Not as cheap as Soul Summons but still a low cost card that not only has manifest synergy but also aura and enchantment synergy as well as a much more relevant intermediate facedown dork. Not quite a Vampire Nighthawk but fairly close. Perhaps not quite powerful enough to be a cube mainstay this card has so much going on I think it will fairly find itself neatly slotted into a relatively wide and exotic selection of decks.

Dromoka, the Eternal 4

A fine card but I think I would rather have Ajani or Sigarda, Host of Herons in my Selesnya five slot. This dragon will end the game quick enough if not answered but isn't doing much else for you nor is it as quick as alternatives in its killing of people.

Frontier Siege 1

There are cheaper and better ways to ramp for two and given the distinct lack of green fliers, or the fact that fliers are not good fighters, or even the fact that there are better ways of getting to fight the dragons half of the card is really quite weak. All in all pretty unplayable.

Wandering Champion 4.5

I am drawn to this card two fold, firstly for the aggressive stats balance on a cheap beater and secondly as a proactive card quality effect. For the latter you need to be in more than just white and without it the card isn't good or exciting enough. As such it is basically yet another gold card like Yasova or Grandmaster. Jeskai is one of the most powerful and diverse three colour combo in the the cube and looting, even if it is the weaker red style discard first, is a powerful effect alone and has a vast array of synergies and things it enables. Sadly the odds on you getting to loot are low, the card is vulnerable itself, is easily blocked, is a fairly high priority to block and the loot is conditional on both having a blue/red permanent and doing damage to a player. Looter il-Kor is the far more consistent card and will remain much more playable but this is a good option to have and might just sneak a cube slot.

Marang River Prowler 4.5

Much as I want to give this a slot in my cube it is not really powerful enough and is on the niche side of things on top of that. Essentially it is a gold card, it needs enablers to make it really good and all told, playing three mana for a 2/1 is pretty sucky. The most comparable card to this is Bloodghast where being unblockable really doesn't make up for a three mana difference in the return cost. Marang River Prowler cannot be abused with sacrifice outlets and is therefore only a persistent threat, a very slow one. I love a free card, I love a recurring card, I love a card I can be happy putting in the bin and I love a card I can tutor up in sneaky ways but all my love cannot change it from being a three mana 2/1 that can't block.

Battle Brawler 4

A decent enough body that would have been quite the powerhouse ten years ago. These days situational dorks that are slightly above the power curve but do nothing else just don't cut it. In very specific decks this might be slightly better than something else but there just isn't room to include marginal luxury cards like that in the cube. Powerful enough, just, but offering nothing new and in no way needed by anything.

Silumgar, the Drifting Death 5.5

I am a little loath to clog up the cube with narrow gold cards however this has some serious things going for it. A 3/7 flying hexproof is incredibly hard to deal with and blocks like a total champion. On the offensive he is slow to kill but very hard to block while being the complete bane of weenie decks. It will likely come down to whether I prefer the more versatile Oona, Queen of Fea or this immovable object as to which has a slot and this will likely alternate somewhat regularly to keep things fresh.

Shaman of the Great Hunt 7

This bad boy is the best of this cycle when you fail to have the other colours available. He is really quite comparable to Hero of Oxid Ridge and Hellrider, both of which he can outperform fairly well without spending any more than 3R on him. He pumps himself and he turns your other dorks into Slith Firewalkers. Being a high priority thing to block you will likely still get some permanent value from him beyond the creature he trades with. The pumping of your other dorks also works well with his ferocious ability which should be averaging you well over one card per use. Four mana for a card is going to win you any late game situation and will be worth taking a midgame tempo hit fairly often when you can get two or more cards from it. The Shaman is dangerous when attacking, he is dangerous when your other dorks are attacking and he is staying safely back and he is even still dangerous when you have no good attacks and you are sitting there in a stalemate. For cube purposes this is the stand out card from this cycle of dorks as it is so good in so many situations. It is not narrow like Grandmaster in the archetypes that support it nor is it weak without using the mana ability like Yasova.

Monastery Mentor 7

I have heard this called the white Rabblemaster which is generous but not unreasonable. The main reason this is not quite the card Rabblemaster is is because you need to activate it with other things, it does not just make an army and kill you totally of its own accord. This makes Monastry Mentor a card you need to build carefully around, too low a spell count and it is not that exciting. White also does not have the most in the way of good cheap spells, enough to make this strong but not enough to totally abuse, for that you will need to step into more Jeskai looking colours. As soon as you can reliably trigger it once per turn you have a card that is quite some distance better than Rabblemaster. You can get quite a big tempo jump by making a bunch of tokens right away unlike the goblin which is limited to one a turn. Monastry Mentor also has a kind of triple effect scaling with non creature spells, he grows, he makes a 1/1 and then he grows all previously made 1/1s. Prowess is an annoying ability that makes combat much more awkward and complicated, having it on one guy is trouble enough but Mentor makes an army of them! In an unpowered cube you can get some stupidly early kills with just the Mentor and a bunch of spells.

Shu Yun, the Silent Tempest 5

A potent midrange beater that can get quite obnoxious if you have spells and red or white mana to go with it. Blue is a bit full on three drops, this is a bit gold, a bit situational, a bit vulnerable and a bit of a do nothing should it get killed. As with Monastery Mentor you can get some pretty darn quick goldfish kills using this card but they are a lot more speculative and you stand to get a lot less value from this when you are not killing them. Another one of the cards with enough power for cube but that is too narrow and fiddly to make the cut.

Monastery Seige 3

Likely the best of the Seige cycle but as with all the others I feel like I don't often feel like I would want both of these options in a deck to warrant the expense of the card. In a reanimator deck you want to loot and protect your big things but this is so slow you might as well just cast your things rather than loot them and then play another threat instead of this and just utterly change your deck so that you are not considering bad cards for it any more. So many other things loot better than this does, that is pretty much where this comment should have ended.

Daghatar the Adamant 1

Slow, fiddly and a bit underwhelming. Sure, he is an acceptable body for the mana and some combat trickery. He has some very annoying applications against cards and some great synergy with others however none of that is worth a four mana durdle dork, especially not a gold one.

Torrent Elemental 4

A rare card that adds a bit more interest to the only other card I know that has inbuilt exile protection - Misthollow Griffin. A 3/5 for five is likely better than a 3/3 for three and coming back from exile tapped is probably equally offset by tapping down blockers when it attacks. Alas that this is basically a gold card making it that much harder to build with. Misthollow Griffin has seen no play at all thus far however it predated all the juicy delve cards and was forgotten about. I am not sure it is worth all the trouble discarding cards, then delving them and then getting them back from exile but it reeks of value at each step of the journey and so has a lot of appeal. It is the only real way there is of being able to repeatedly delve cast spells without running out of cards, not that this is much of a thing with Time Walk based Simic combo decks being less common. I think just one cast of Treasure Cruise is quite enough! Essentially this is a very cool card that you can do some really cool stuff with but that isn't powerful or impactive enough to be bothering to include.

Mardu Strike Leader 6

Black is getting a bit like blue these days with too many good three drops to chose from, this Leader being another example of one. A 3/2 for 3 is OK, a free 2/1 each time you attack is decent, you will get value even when chump attacking with it and left unanswered it will close out a game in Rabblemaster like fashion. The dash option also gives the card better utility, curve options and a top deck tempo play. Usually you will want to slap this down for three for mana efficiency however against mass removal the dash option will be more appealing.

Supplant Form 3

A potent card that is simply too expensive for the cube for the kind of effect it offers. The general reason you play bounce effects is for tempo and for versatility. This only hits dorks and costs six which means it fails to offer you early tempo when you need it most and is not a versatile card, not only can you not hit anything non-creature but you really don't want to be aiming this at anything small. This is not just a bounce card however, it is also a bit of a Clone. To my mind the reasons you play Clone effect cards are because you can often get a really good deal paying four or less for something like a Titan which can greatly recover your position in a game you fall behind. With this at six is is unlikely to get you a dork that is that much more converted mana cost than six and against a lot of the time you will be getting dorks that cost less than six. This kind of card falls into the same category as Spelljack, powerful and swingy but just too expensive for the role it performs.

Citadel Siege 4

Although neither the dragons or the khans half of this card is bad and you could well want either effect in the same sort of deck this is still not a cube worthy card. It is quite a clunky card that is not really much of a threat alone. You get far more power and versatility from planeswalkers and creatures that are also actual threats.

Flamewake Phoenix 6

This is unrealistically close in power and effect to Chandra's Phoenix - a card that was a complete mainstay when it was first released and has gradually seen less and less play since then. The issue with the original Chandra's Phoenix is that three is quite a lot of mana to pay for a 2/2, in the more control decks you don't have the mana spare to cast it lots and in aggro decks the damage output and level of threat is just pitiful compared to what you can be doing with three mana that it is left in the sidelines. That all said, haste and flying are two of the best abilities going in magic and a recursive threat that offers synergy as well still has a lot of clout. I am wary that having both in the cube might be a little bit too much however choosing between them is very tricky. As there is some merit in having both for a bit of redundancy in their synergies I suspect it will be either both or neither that I support in my cube. Once you move past the shared discard and recursion synergy these two cards are actually suited to very different decks. Flamewake Phoenix requires you to have ferocious to come back while Chandra's triggers from spell and planeswalker damage. The more creatures you have in your deck the less spells and planeswalkers you will have and vice versa so the better one Phoenix becomes the weaker the other is. Generally I would say that the Chandra's Phoenix is either a control card or burn deck card while Flamewake is better suited to midrange and stompy decks. Flamewake only costs one to return and so can be much better tempo however you cannot return it to hand and so it has no ongoing synergy with discard outlets. I have used Chandra's Phoenix to good effect as a second Squee in a Forbid lock deck which will not be helped much at all by Flamewake. Flamewake is carefully designed so that you cannot use it as a way to continually have a chump blocker up nor can you repeatedly make it for one and abuse it with a sacrifice outlet. So, this is a great little card that offers a great many things all in a neat little package that I fear will see only light play due to having somewhat low immediate impact on a game.

Mardu Shadowspear 3.5

Pulse Tracker is back, and this time he has dash! While I briefly ran the original Vampire in the cube when he was first released there was a lot less choice for one drops back then. There are many reasons why this and Pulse Tracker are just worse than a 2/1 for one including weak combat strength against other creatures, poor planeswalker attrition, poor scaling with a bunch of creature keywords like lifelink etc etc. Gone are the days where any dork that costs one and hits for two being thrown in the cube. Dash is not nearly enough to make this card interesting, especially when it is twice the cost of just throwing the card down first.

Brutal Hordechief 4

Very powerful limited style card but all too much of a phaff on what is mostly just a Hill Giant to be worth a cube slot. Giving a sinlge point drain life on all your attackers is nice but barely compensates for the Hill Giant body, you certainly wouldn't be happy playing this without the R/W activated ability available. Certainly it is powerful and should easily win you any stalemate board positions but it does fairly little from behind and very expensive to use.

Whisperer of the Wilds 6

I am a big fan of this new ramp option. I find it quite similar to Joraga Tree Speaker although overall less potent. It is also very similar to Devoted Druid, a card I have not frequently run in my A cube. Devoted Druid has some potential for abuse and can reliably offer two mana on a turn of your choosing however outside of that one turn it is mostly just a bad Llanowar Elf. The reason I prefer Whisperer of the Wilds to Devoted Druid is that it can fairly reliably provide two mana most turns which allows you to pack that much more fat and things to spend mana on. Whisperer is narrower than many of the other ramp critters as you need to have a reasonable count of dorks that provide ferocious before it is worth playing at all however this is the case for most of the decks that would want such a two drop. It is also not an elf meaning you will not be finding this in many tribal decks. At worst this is still very playable even if there are better alternatives but when it is good it offers so much extra power for so little risk, investment or messing around that it is well worth it.

Arcbond 2

Very narrow and a little silly but being cheapish and instant with no upper limit on its output there are some abuses and combos lurking about for this card I am sure. Doubtful that they will make this cube worthy but still one to watch.

Wild Slash  6.5

For me this is one of the stand out cards in the set. There is precious little in the way of good one mana instant speed burn in the cube. After Burst Lightning and Bolt there is nothing much better than Shock on offer, you either have to suck up sorcery speed, or pay more than one mana, or have weak unexciting spells, or overly situational spells. Wild Slash is not exciting, numbers wise it is still just Shock. Wild Slash is reliable and consistent and every now and again it will totally bail you. Most of the time you probably won't have ferocious, most of the times that you do having unpreventable damage will be irrelevant however when it is relevant it will be pretty huge and swingy, and you get this perk for free. Oddly I quite liken it to Boros Charm, a card you are typically playing as something that just reads "do four damage to a player" but then every now and again it makes all your things indestructible and wins the game on the spot. Wild Slash is not quite so swingy nor as frequent in its alternate use coming up useful however it is a far more versatile and broadly playable card to begin with than Boros Charm. Wild Slash makes all damage unpreventable so you can use it in combination with other cards to do much more brutal things. You can get round protection from red or True-Name Nemesis or just get past tedious white lock down enchantments with your creatures for a turn. Unpreventable damage is an effect red can put to great use but historically has had to forgo such things main deck as it cannot afford slots on situational things. Flaring Pain has often been seen in sideboards to allow red to cope with things when it knows it will be facing them but now we have Wild Slash we can happily play main deck and afford us much the same effect while saving sideboard slots and retaining high average card power and redundancy. This is not just a great cube card, I expect to see copies of this cropping up in almost every format, certainly not any where near the extent of Treasure Cruise but still out there none the less.

Tasigur, the Golden Fang 6

This guy kind of has it all, he offers a wide array of synergies, he has some with himself and he is powerful as he is. You can use him aggressively as a cheap fat dork or you can use him defensively and generate card advantage. He makes Gurmag Angler look really quite unplayable by comparison! Four is a fair amount of mana to pay to get one card however you can do it at instant speed meaning you can leave mana up and somewhat negate the high cost when being the control player. The card is also one from your graveyard meaning you can potentially abuse certainly things repeatedly, with library manipulation and delve effects you can have a lot of control over what you will be getting back thus furthering the value of the effect. He has double synergy with discard themed decks as he can be cast that much sooner and then can contribute further to the putting of things into the graveyard. He is basically gold, although still playable as just a black card even if rather bland. Being gold and a bit of a midrange card with further costs I cannot get too excited about him although he is rather cool.

Warden of the First Tree 6.5

Highly comparable to Figure of Destiny in most regards, Warden is slightly better early and has more top end scaling potential however it can never be a mono coloured card. Warden is easier to grow than Figure in general as it is less colour intense, this is most the case when you are Azban but still true if you are only in black or white. While my gut is still to prefer Figure as it is playable in mono coloured decks I am finding more and more that mono decks are less common and less powerful. RtR and now Khans has really upped the value of being in multiple colours and as such Figure is probably less overall playable than Warden in the current environment as it is so hard to include it in a deck that has any non red or white colours in it. Despite these subtle differences Warden is a great little card, it gives you great flexibility and really really helps to smooth out your curve, both by having cheaper plays and more options on how to spend your mana. It is a dangerous threat and all round winner.

Ojutai, Soul of Winter 2

This is fine but not good, for seven mana and a gold card you could do a lot lot better. This can win games and can help you in rough spots but it is very underwhelming for what you pay for it. White and blue do not have many other dragons so you will usually be waiting to get the tap down trigger making this painfully slow. Give me a Timayo every day.

Wildcall 5

Much like Soul Summons but with much better late game scaling for the penalty of a heavier colour requirement. Having +1/+1 counters on manifest cards is extra good as it gives you lots of potential to abuse things, a Kalonian Hydra under a Wildcall, even with just X as 2, is going to be brutal. One of the main reasons to be playing Soul Summons is the prowess and similar style triggers than come with it which are far less useful in green. This card is cool and has some synergy to offer but I am not sure if it is doing enough of anything specific to merit inclusion. I hope I am wrong as I really like everything about this card but I just cannot see where I am playing it.

Reality Shift 6

Curse of the Swine but this time cheaper and more instanterer. Curse of the Swine was a flop because it failed to do what you most need from removal which is gaining tempo. Sorcery speeds and 3 mana minimum is a bad start, leaving behind 2/2's doesn't help much either. Pongify and company deal with some of the problems but make others worse and comes with new ones. Exile is worlds more useful than destroy effects in the cube and a 3/3 is a much nastier threat than a 2/2, more so than the numbers alone suggest. Reality Shift is a lovely medium ground between the two, it gives blue a solid cheap instant exile effect that provides reliable removal as well as good tempo potential. While I initially jumped all over this when I saw it first due to blues impotency in the removal department I do have one concern about this card on more careful reflection. Typically blue deals with tokens easily using bounce however against random manifested cards this is not a viable option. This in turn means that you will typically have to kill the manifest card in combat meaning your opponent has a lot of control over the card which means if it is good a creature they can usually save it to a time it is convenient to turn face up. As such you have a card that is not unlike Chaos Warp, potent removal that comes with a risk of giving them something pretty potent back. At least with Reality Shift you can be confident of safely using it early in the game. Overall I think the card is valuable enough in blue that it will see some play but I suspect more of the time people will just splash black or white for simpler removal.

Write into Being 3

Another card that I love but sadly one that is just too slow for what cube does. There are so many cool things you can do with manifest and that extra bit of card quality built in makes all of those cool things much more likely. Sadly a 3 mana 2/2 is just not bringing home the bacon.

Sultai Emissary 5

Another slight upgrade on a previously close card. I was a fan of Butcher Ghoul when it was first spoiled despite desperately wishing it cost 1! Even back then it was too weak for cube and so this slight upgrade seems like it will similarly be too weak for present cube. The Emissary is a little better with things like Recurring Nightmare and obviously when you hit good things to flip over but in a vacuum is broadly just a 1/1 for 2 than dies into a 2/2, nothing that is getting much done nor representing the worlds best value. Vampiric Tutor offers some nice synergy with this too. I think ultimately I just don't quite know how yet to evaluate manifest as I have not played with it nor fully grasped how it can be used and how it will effect other cards. It may just be good in some colours, it may not be good enough or it might be better than expected. If I am underrating manifest then this is likely good enough and more than just a little better than Butcher Ghoul.

Humble Defector 6

I love it! I am also overrating it a little like I did with Wild Guess and similar because I love to draw cards. There is a lot about this that stops it being too abused or too powerful in a vacuum. Having to tap it to exchange it for cards makes it hard to do much quickly or get bonus value attacking then dumping for cards. Having only one toughness makes it very easy for you to kill once you have traded it in for cards but it also makes its easily disrupted and weak in combat. Restricting it to your turn makes it worse against removal and less use blocking. All that said and done it is still a card that can draw two for two mana or just be a 2 power beater. I like the idea of games where people draw three cards a turn also!

Atarka, World Render 3

Big, fat and killy but pricey and unexciting. The only cube home for this is a dragon themed deck, even Dragonstorm probably doesn't need this kind of sillyness.

Alesha Who Smiles at Death 5.5

A wholly acceptable body for the mana that comes with potent utility and value options. If you get to attack and have black and/or white mana you get to start putting your dead weenies back into action very efficiently indeed. She is fairly vulnerable and is only really good in combat against things of the same cost or less meaning you will likely average less than one activation with Alesha. This is still fine, you will have pulled removal with a cheap card at worst. One trigger, even with a chump attack from Alesha can still get you great value, 2 for 1 or better, some forced through damage or some naughty creature recurred like a Stoneforge Mystic. A bit gold and a bit low initial impact for my liking but powerful enough for sure and reasonably convenient as well.

Mastery of the Unseen 4.5

Expensive and slow but very powerful and full of lots of potential to be part of a themed manifest deck. As a way of putting dorks into play this is not the best option white has nor even that close to it. It has anti-synergy with itself as you are dumping mana into it therefore having less spare to turn your things face up.

Temur Sabertooth 4

I want this to be good but it feels like Cudgel Troll is just better. This has great interaction with manifest and will be a limited bomb but for cube it is too pricey for just a solid midrange beater. Vengevine or Thrun, the Last Troll have much more appeal than this.

Jeskai Barricade 4

A very cute defensive enabler. Great with Wall of Omens, Knight of the White Orchid and Blade Splicer but at heart it is a control card in which it is too narrow to be a mainstay. Great when it is good but awful too often resulting in a card quite a lot worse than Wall of Omens.

Abzan Beastmaster 3

Nearly a green Dark Confidant except that it costs three and is overly situational on the trigger... Three mana 2/1s are sad, especailly ones you need to keep alive. I'll stick to my Ohran Viper for now.

Frost Walker 5.5

Aggro blue two drop! This is weak, would not make the cut in any other colour yet could probably be a 3/1 and still be a consideration simply due to how little blue has available to it in this area. There are relatively few things that target dorks that wouldn't kill this despite the sacrifice clause. Of those effects that wouldn't otherwise kill Frost Walker there are even less that do so in a way that makes you feel ripped off, trading a two drop for a planeswalker activation isn't that bad. So what you get with this is a very offensive dork you can play on turn two pretty happily. If they deal with it you have likely maintained tempo and if not it will do a gross amount of damage. It will greatly help power up blue devotion cards and is a real win for any aggro blue strategy not relying on a tribal theme. Narrow, not the most powerful but sorely needed!

Mardu Woe-Reaper 6.5

A double blow to both Elite Vanguard and the sad sad Savannah Lions. Vanguard will still get a little play in human theme decks but is so low down the pick order of one drops that this will be very rare. So, tried and tested 2/1 for 1 winds up in most aggro decks, this comes with a minor but useful perk. A little bit of disruption against several graveyard focused strategies complete with some bonus life gain. A similar sort of disruption to Dryad Militant but the Mardu Woe-Reaper is quite a bit better other than not being castable for green. Creatures tend to be better targets, life gain is nice and targeted proactive disruption feels better than pre-emptive passive disruption. Soldier of the Pantheon is still the number one white 2/1 for one but this is a comfortable second.

Rally the Ancestors 2

Interesting and powerful but far too narrow for general cube use. The only applications I can see for this in cube are combo ones and those seem like you could probably just do better things and use better cards than Rally the Ancestors.

Renowned Weaponsmith 5

Vedalken Engineer is back and this time he has mystery utility and extra toughness at the small cost of no longer colour fixing. Colour fixing is usually quite a big deal but with artifact restrictions in place it is significantly less important with very few cube artifacts needing coloured mana. Extra toughness is a big deal and goes a long way to protecting himself so as to ramp more reliably as well as protecting you so as to not die! I suspect the mystery utility will not be worthy of main cube inclusion but it cannot make the card worse. Finding a Heart-Piercer Bow is not a thing I want to be doing. This is narrow but very powerful indeed, it is the kind of card that would make me want to add an artifact theme to a deck so as to be able to play effectively.

Mardu Scout 4

Not quite powerful enough these days. Double red to cast is broadly going to be lame too although this card is very nice with Perphorus. Dash gives you some casting flexiblity, a bit of a tempo boost or protection for the card but while it increases the utility of the card somewhat it is always just a 3/1 dork that always costs at least two which leaves it underpowered.

Cloudform 5

Another very interesting manifest card I wish mostly to sit on the fence about. Three mana 2/2s are a bit iffy, flying and hexproof go a good way to improving that but all you have really is a pathetic clock or a planeswalker deterrent. You cannot get it into combat with much beyond spirit tokens and so you have spent a chunk of mana to do not very much. You have to abuse the manifest or the comes into play effect heavily to make this card worth it. Both of those things are very easy to do with blue and so this card has some great potential synergy despite the lack lustre body.

Pressure Point 5.5

Quite a long way from Ice let alone Fire / Ice as a package. That said I often find myself playing Abeyance just as a cheap cycling card that has some disruptive effects to which this is going to be far less situational and often more useful as well. This is a boring card, it is also not that much of a bargain but it is still very playable and strong because of its widely useful effect while being cheap and replacing itself with a new card.

Refocus 1

Not nearly as playable as Pressure Point as it cannot be used as control disruption, at best it is a limp combat trick or a wishful way to abuse good monsters with tap effects. Neither are worth a card, even a cheap self replacing one.

Dark Deal 3

This resembles lots of cards like Wheel of Fortune, Winds of Change, Windfall etc. Being black is quite nice just for the opening up of new options. Not so powerful a draw tool but more effective as disruption while remaining great as a way of filling up your graveyard. A pretty terrible late game top deck and a very narrow card but certainly one that has a place in some obscure decks.

Quarsi High Priest 3

I love a one drop sac outlet. This is a bit on the mana intense side so has no combo applications but does fairly useful things so may see some play in the role of Carrion Feeder in some decks desiring sacrifice synergy.

Break Through the Line 4

An interesting alternative to burn as a finisher style card for weenie decks. This is one of those cards that is a lot better in cube than in other formats. Haste is a nice boost too as it gives the card more utility and in a proactive way, it can be handy when your opponent isn't doing anything! You need creatures for this and so it is a bit of a Lightning Greaves, it is uncomfortable using valuable deck slots on things that do nothing alone. Narrow but potentially very abusive, I like the fact that it makes one and two drops better in a format where 3 and up drop minions are vastly more powerful per mana.

Collateral Damage 3

Shard Volley in a creature cost form, fine in the right deck but way less good than Shard Volley as you won't always have creatures to sac. I rarely find I want that extra damage enough to resort to this kind of drivel however Shard Volley sees a lot of play and sacing creatures can be a good thing!

Sudden Reclamation 6

I am going to go out on a limb here and give this card a big thumbs up. It is green card advantage, it is instant, it pro-actively aids any graveyard synergy you may have, it is recursion and it is cool. Most of the time getting a land back will be a good thing, this card is quite controlly looking and you always want land with control. Raw draw wise Harmonize has this beat but this is very close to it and does quite a lot of other useful things as well. Being restricted to a creature on the other card returned is a little more uncomfortable as control and combo have less of these. I am not sure if ramp decks will want this sort of low impact card over just another high quality threat. I hope this finds a home but I am not exactly sure what that looks like other than some vague UGx control thing.

Hewed Stone Retainers 1

These are fine in an affinity deck but seem deeply weak compared to Myr Enforcer, Etched Champion or really any of the threats they play.

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