Monday 11 January 2016

Oath of Gatewatch Conclusions and Top Cards

Overall Oath of the Gatewatch is a huge win. It now quite comfortably holds the title of best set for cube with a whopping 10%plus  main cube inclusion rate and another good 10% of the set with some potential cube applications. It is not just the sheer quantity of cube playable cards that makes this a good set by a long shot. The card design is top rate with lots of very well balanced and positioned things. I spent much longer per card working out how good it was and where it could be used than I normally do. The cards seemed to ooze uses and applications. They had hidden ramifications and both significant and subtle interactions. Simply put it was really hard to analyze what I was faced with. Wizards have gotten really good at placing cards, there are some that seem really quite powerful even by cube standards that might not be quite there and plenty more seemingly fair or calm cards that should be real workhorses and game winners in the cube. Reality Smasher is huge power but it might not get played enough to keep its slot. Sylvan Advocate and Dimensional Infiltrator are good examples of the calmer and fairer cards that are more likely to outperform the Reality Smasher in the cube.

After good cards and good design there is still more that is good to say about Oath. There is top rate one drop card quality in green and other interesting cheap cards that will greatly improve the game. To go with our cards that improve the game we have some cards that improve the meta in things such as Warping Wail. This Eldrazi charm opens things up, it rebalances the scales and it does so without being a stilly card like Skullclamp that only effectively balances stuff because it makes things homogenus (that applied to standard at the time and not the cube). There are other Eldrazi cards that open things up a bit for the colours too so I expect some more adventurous and fearless deck design to come of it.

Both surge and colourless mana are fantastic new mechanics that work well in the cube. The consideration of the relevance of colourless mana in general and specifically for the deck you are making will be very interesting. I have already started looking at how to accommodate more colourless mana sources. No one wants to play Wastes! On that point I did consider right at the start of it all how I would incorporate the new basic land within the cube. With everything now out I can clearly see there is no merit to just placing a single Wastes in the cube to draft and so I will just keep some with the basics. I expect them not to get used much or often but without guarenteed access to colourless producing lands the Eldrazi cards that need it will be far less pickable in draft. I really hope they return to colourless mana as a theme or mechanic rather than leave us with these tantalizing few.

This set had no overpowered bomb 9/10 or higher cards but it was awash with solid 8's. It also seemed to have a little bit of something everywhere. Certainly some colours and guilds (Izzet..) have gotten more than others in this set but notably less than most, if not all others. There is a good chance this is just statistics coming through in that there are just a lot more cube cards from this set than most therefore affording the most smoothing of offerings throughout the colours and curve. All told it is very hard to rate the cards as to the best for the cube. Lots are comparably good with some being incredibly playable and others simply being pretty powerful. Rather than rate everything I have tried to group the cards of interest more so you can see how I look at stuff more.

The Cube Mainstays - stuff I am pretty confidant that will last at least a few years in the cube, in most cases indefinitely.

1.   Oath of Nissa
2.   Wandering Fumarole
3.   Warping Wail
4.   Needle Spires
5.   Hissing Quagmire
6.   Linvala, the Preserver
7.   Jori En, Ruin Diver
8.   Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
9.   Stormchaser Mage

The Solid Stuff - not so obviously mainstay but could easily perform above expectation. Some of the more swingy cards are here, they could wind up being top cube mainstays or borderline inclusions.

10. Matter Reshaper
11. Eldrazi Dispacer
12. Fall of the Titans
13. Dimensional Inflitrator
14. Ayli, Eternal Pilgrim

The Potential Stuff - more variable and unknown than the ones above

15. Eldrazi Obligator
16. Reflector Mage
17. Sylvan Advocate
18. Reality Smasher
19. Kalitas, Traitor of Ghet
20. Crush of Tentacles

The unlikely stuff - I'll throw it in to test on the offchance it outperforms expectation but anticipate them not doing so.

Sphinx of the Final Word
Chandra, Flamecaller
Captain's Claws
World Breaker
Goblin Dark-Dwellers
End Bringer
Stonehaven Outfitter
Thought-Knot Seer
Remorseless Punishment

Finally, the boring filler stuff that has some known roles in the cube that will periodically favour these over the incredibly comparable alternatives on offer. This group also includes the more narrow stuff that will be used in cube but is unlikely ever to be something you would main cube.

Spatila Contortion
Comparative Analysis
Kozilek's Return
Pulse of Marusa
Grip of the Roil
Corpse Churn
Living Tendrils
Oath of Jace

This is a long long list of things to be getting for the cube from one set! Good job. Again please.

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