Wednesday 2 March 2016

Shadows Over Innistrad: Preliminary Review Part I

Mindwrack Demon 5

A meaty midrage dork that has a lot of the same perks as a Siege Rhino with some unique ones all of its one neatly contained in a mono colour card. The card comes with two potential drawbacks, milling stuff you didn't want to and punching yourself for four in the face each upkeep should you fail the delirium test. It also somewhat suffers the issue that black has a lot of meaty fliers at four with some risks or drawbacks to them, it also has a reasonable selection of solid midrange dorks for this sort of cost also in competition for deck slots. Generally I think Abyssal Persecutor is significantly better than this however should you have a sufficient number of things like Bloodghast that you actively want to mill then the self mill for four becomes well worth it. Basically, this is a card worthy of the cube but likely a bit too niche in when it really shines above the alternatives. I expect this to be a long time B-cuber only really coming out to play when people want to mess about and experiment.

Pack Guardian 4

One to watch for sure. A 4/3 flash for 4 with the option on a bonus 2/2 for no extra cost is a dangerous tempo swing. The card is fairly vanilla and rather at the high end of the curve for the decks that this would appeal to but it is still very frightening. I don't see it making the cut because the potential synergies you might want to use this with won't fit the simple beatdown nature of this card. Without some kind of land synergy going on the card is simply too unreliable for cube.

Structural Distortion 4

Pillage meets Molten Rain meets the exile thing like this from the last set... There are situations where you really want to exile land in play but they are rare. This is a bit too pricey to play in the role of either Molten Rain or Pillage despite the value and utility this card offers. Basically if you are playing very specific constructed style decks and you need a pillage removal effect with exile this is your card, for draft cubes this is not sufficiently powerful on average to be worth inclusion.

Invasive Surgery 0

Awful for the singleton cubes but a powerful and dangerous card in a lot of other formats. Certainly pick up a play set of these if you like to be prepared for constructed events.

Duskwatch Recruiter 4.5

This is surprisingly close to the line these days. It looks great but is a bit of a phaff to get it to do that much. It is a bit of a Fauna Shaman, a 2/2 for two that you need to spend more mana on before it does much of much. Tempo wise this doesn't do that much for you. In order to flip it you have to have a screwed opponent or really hurt your own tempo. This means the card has somewhat counter synergy with itself. I like the way you can make it fairly late, dump all your mana into it for a turn or two, flip it and then dump that hand. As two drops go it is a good late draw, it is just not at all exciting turns two through far too many! Another card destined for the B cube.

Expose Evil 4

Not quite good enough for the cube with Grip of the Roil out and about. The design of this card is lovely however and I look forward to seeing more cards with investigate. A card draw kicker for two on a card makes it very appealing in general. Into the Roil was one of the premium bounce cards until Cyclonic Rift ruined its day.Investigate is substantially better than such kickers as it lets you pay the cost at your leisure and also gives you permanents to put to use. Investigate in principle will power down things like Tangle Wire and Smokestack.

Dance With Devils 1

This card is much stronger that it looks being an instant. It also offers a lot of synergies while doubling up in many ways as a burn spell. I like this theme but sadly this is too much like a 4 mana card for any red decks to be picking it up soon in the cube.

Furtive Homunculus 1

Aggressive cheap blue dorks are coming along. This is still a little ways off being cube worthy but it always a good sign when you see stuff like this that more playables will come!

Voldaren Duelist 1

Goblin Heelcutter is overall better. With such cards you are unlikely to need them over and over again. Heelcutter is significantly better when you only need one hit with your 3 power blocking preventing dude. When you need two hits it is comparable as you can do it earlier despite needing more mana while being more protected against sorcery speed removal. Perhaps you play this in a vampire deck but doubtful. Heelcutter is hardly a cube staple or an overpowered card.

Sanguinary Mage 3

Quite a step down from either Swiftspear or Stormchaser Mage. Power wise this is a relatively weak card but it still might well be playable as acceptable filler that scales very well in a prowess themed deck. There are a lot of vanilla prowess dorks, 2/1 for 2, 2/1 flier for 3 and so forth. The more I play with prowess in the cube the more I find the toughness heavy creatures to be the best to support the mechanic. There are also relatively few really good prowess dorks in the cube, the mean weakness of decks themed that way is being threat light. Of all the vanilla prowess dorks one could fill out that kind of deck with this is probably the best. It survives well, comes down quickly and should hit pretty hard given you are playing a deck focused on triggering prowess!

Pieces of the Puzzle 2

Somewhere between Impulse and Compulsive Research however the card type restrictions really limit the playability of this card. You need a near 50% target count in your list including lands for it to be better than the more reliable draw cards and only a couple of very niche decks can do this. Brain in a Bottle strongly incentivises such decks and so this may well wind up seeing some play in combination with that but otherwise it will sit in the C cube.

Crow of Dark Tidings 1

Yet more super niche cards that are pretty borderline even in those decks that are well suited. This is too weak a body to be good in any aggressive self mill style deck and it is simply too expensive to be good support filler in other self mill strategies. Despite this it is a zombie and Patriarch's Bidding is still a viable archetype for certain forms of cube and this silly little crow could be pretty reasonable in such decks.

Ember Eye Wolf ?

Presently this is not spoiled with a mana cost. Unless it is one we don't need to go on and given it is a common I cannot see that being the case. Even at 1 there are still better one drops in red but it would certainly be a nice addition. Alas to things that will not come to pass.

Niblis of Dusk 1

Functional reprints so soons! I guess this is what we get for having no core sets and in some ways it is no bad thing for cube. Despite this being a limp card and likely out performed but the also limp Sanguinary Mage the fact that you can fill up your deck with some evasive prowess threats is away to take the deck and would likely perform better against green mages. Redundancy, especially in your deck defining filler cards, is not to be underrated in the singleton format.

Shamble Back 2

I want the one mana 2/2 zombie plus two life card to be good but it sadly isn't getting there. There are almost no circumstances you can play this on your first turn without doing a lot of other stuff and if you have the mana for that there are better ways to spend it. This only looks good compared to other aggressive one drops. Compare it to something like Serra Avenger, a more appropriate comparison, and you see how limp it really is. You will get more utility out of the exile effect and if that is the case you should play better exile mechanics. Lots of value but a card that has so much counter synergy with itself it winds up doing near nothing.

Pour Over the Pages 1

This is a lot of extra fluff on what works out most of the time being a Compulsive Research. Untap lands is nice but even with a Heartbeat of Spring effect in play this is still costing you mana not generating it. Not being able to play this until you have five mana and being a little vulnerable when you cast it do not work in its favour compared to Compulsive Research. An interesting card but overall I am pretty sure it is just a bad one.

Explosive Apparatus  2

One mana artifacts are usually interesting in some capacity and this is no exception. It certainly isn't a good card but it is just about playable. Basically it is a one shot Cursed Scroll that doesn't require you to have low hand size. It is also comparable to Pyrite Spellbomb although not very relevantly. This is obviously a lot worse than the Spellbomb but the point is that this is a non red source of damage and therefor quite an interesting option for a Trinket Mage. Four mana to Shock something is still a little steep and so I suspect this won't get used but it is nice to have that option.

Eerie Interlude 3

This seems a little narrow to be worth it most of the time but it does have some nice dual application. Either it counters a mass removal effect or it retriggers your EtB effects. In a flicker style deck you might be able to justify running it but it is the kind of card that will sit in your hand looking poo a lot of the time.

Compelling Deterrence 3

Narrow is the name of the game thus for the spoiled card and this is following suit. It is at least incredibly powerful when you fulfill its conditions and playable when you don't. There are not a large number of blue decks with a decent zombie count but there is a lot more reason for there to be now. Recoil is cube worthy, often dubbed the instant Vindicate! This misses lands but for a mana and a colour less I can easily forgive that! If there were any sort of playable archetype that was blue and has at least a couple of zombie cards I would throw this in the cube, as it is it shall have to wait on the sidelines.

Tooth Collector 3

Not the 187 dork we need. This is a decent card but I don't think it is enough card. The kinds of things this kills have already done most of their work by the time you play this. 3/2 for 3 is decent too but only if you get some value from the effect which is going to be tragically rare. If you really want the delirium effect on this guy you might as well play Plague Spitter or some actual good card like Toxic Deluge. As a sideboard style card for decks with lots of targets this is good as a maindeck card against the current meta this is really wanting.

Topplegeist 6

I am very impressed with this card but I fear it looks a little better than it is. Most of why this is good is that it is a playable Suntail Hawk that can come down early, get pumped, hold equipment and so on without being a really under powered linear card. The entering play tap will only get damage in some of the time and only a couple at that. You also have to not play this on turn one to get that value from it which is fine, you would rather play a 2/1, but it does slightly reduce its average value.

The delirium effect is very powerful but hard to trigger, especially in the decks (basically just white weenie variants) that will play this card. Even if you work at having a bunch of different card types, perhaps even some discard effects the delirium is still going to be unreliable and rarely online before turn five. If you want a tapper you should be going with Gideon's Lawkeeper but if you want a good utility one drop that scales well with your pump effects then this is your man. White weenie will really grow in strength when it has a couple more high value flying weenie creatures that cost one or two mana. Without burn white needs evasion to close out games. Most of the great white additions of late have not offered evasion and it is becoming more noticeable that midrange decks can quite easily stall out the white weenie player.

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