Thursday, 7 July 2016
Eldritch Moon Preliminary Review: Part II
Soul Separator 1
Love the flavour, like the design. Detest the mana cost. This is 8 mana to do a one time risky reanimate which is far from a good deal. Due to some unique attributes of this card it might have uses but that doesn't stop it being a weak card. This either needed to cost a couple less mana to play and to activate or it needs to have repeat use. Splitting up loads of the good recursion targets doesn't improve them, it makes them vulnerable to bounce and other removal and far easier to chump block. A 15/15 token is meh, a 1/1 Emrakul token is far less likely to get to annihilate or close a game.
Elder Deep-Fiend 5.5
This reminds me of Mistbind Clique. The Deep Fried Eldrazi has more utility and is less narrow but scales a little worse into the game. Tapping down four things is nice, it will help with creature based stuff but it won't be a time walk against control decks almost every time you play it. From about turn six onwards tapping down lands will start to be far less exciting with a Deep Fiend than it is with Mistbind. The Fearie also flies which is probably better than +1/+2 stats, certainly in the longer game. Further to this the Fearie gives you back the championed card when it dies which the Eldrazi does not. Mistbind doesn't see much play but that is due to a lack of Fearies, if it championed wizards or humans it would be a mainstay in the cube. Elder Deep Fiend can easily come down turn four and dominate the game for a while there after. The issue with the card is that you need to be in blue and you need to have creatures that you want to sac. There are a decent number of these but not loads and loads. It then becomes a bit odd as an archetype as you are playing defensive cards like Sea Gate Oracle with more proactive stuff like this. Powerful and versatile enough that I am sure it will see some play but awkward enough that it probably won't keep an A cube drafting slot that long. Presently there are just not enough permanents for tempo blue decks, certainly not enough you want to sac.
Kessig Prowler 6
Wow, green, the creature colour, finally gets a tempo one drop beater that isn't awful or entirely dependent on other things. This blows Jungle Lion, Mtenda Lion, Tattermunge Maniac, Scythe Tiger, Pouncing Jaguar, Wild Dogs, Abzan Ogre, Rogue Elephant and all that other garbage out of the water. Enough more like this and Stompy might be a thing in cube! That is right, nearly a quarter of a century on green finally catches up to white and gets a Savannah Lion... So the interesting thing about this card is that I am not sure where it goes. A 2/1 for 1 is good but red decks can probably do better when they are playing green as well, white decks certainly can. Green doesn't have its own aggro deck, if it did it would be zoo where this still wouldn't be powerful enough to get a spot. If this were a red card it would be at least a 7 out of 10 as it would comfortably make most RDW lists. In green the card may well not see play despite green being the best colour for flipping it. The more I think on it the more I like the card, level up cards are great and this is the only 1 drop level card which is good tempo early. You always make other aggro one drops before Figure of Destiny because you have to pay the mana soon with Figure or it doesn't do enough. Kessig Prowler hits for 2 with no further cost which is all we can ask of our one drops. The flip isn't game ending power but it is instant and not actually that much mana. If you are flooding at all or ripping this guy late the ability to turn him into a 4/4 with a mild combat effect is going to be very welcome. Perhaps Zoo will run it, it is a deck that can flood out more than most. While there are better 1 drops than this for Zoo outside of green, they are harder to cast with green being the base colour for zoo. I can also see this being used as filler, just as a way to lower your curve and improve your matchups against the quicker decks. It is not like you are playing a low powered card compared to an actual Savannah Lion in a midrange setting.
Smoldering Werewolf 0
Not an awful card but a little pricey and far too situational. Against an elf deck this is going to be a total kicking. Against a control deck you would be really happy to hit anything at all with it. A 3/2 for 4 needs to do way more than Forked Bolt dorks only. The transform is pricey and not so much power that it is a thing you are desperate to do, certainly no reason to play the card.
Voldaren Pariah 4
This is quite the hard one to rate. Madness itself is very tricky, it heavily depends upon the support there is for it. The value of the support depends on the the total of all the other madness cards and graveyard based stuff. Then this card has further support considerations and cost considerations. You can also look at this card in loads of different lights. Is it a removal spell? Is it a cheap aggressive dork? Is it a powerful finisher? Is it just a bit of an all rounder that affords some options?
I think you can use it as several of these roles but some are more likely or more powerful than others. A BBB 3/3 flier with all the madness perks like flash is a powerful thing on its own. The issue is that it would need to be in a mono black shell which not only makes that aspect of the card narrow but also unlikely as all the best quick madness outlets aren't mono black.
As a removal spell it is very powerful but highly situational. You need three guys, they need three guys. They can have less if they are significantly better than yours and you can have more but this is not a common picture I am painting here. Unless you flip it right away your opponent is going to do their level best to stop you flipping it and ruining them. As such this is a kind of super Barter in Blood that you have to play in a creature heavy deck. Powerful yes but really too expensive and situational to be viable removal.
It is a bit too needy and awkward to be a consistent and reliable high end midrange card. While it is good the bar is just so very high for that sort of thing. Absolutely there are times this card would be outstanding but you don't have to have that many occasions where this is a 5 mana 3/3 flier to offset those outstanding times.
Stormkirk Comdemned 4
They really are pushing the madness vampires! We are almost at a stage where a cube madness vampires deck looks workable. This is an achievement given that last year we were nowhere near a vampire deck, let alone a niche subset of that theme. Alone this card is very weak but it doesn't take having many other vampires or things you want to discard for this to be a very appealing little card. Not quite the madness outlet or one man offence that Wild Mongrel was back in the day but potentially a lot more powerful when you manage to build up a board of some vampires. The ideal combat trick is to madness out some lord using this and Falkenrath Gorger! Presently I don't have enough discardy or vampirey things in my drafting cube to merit this but I will probably shove a bunch in to help test this set out with and this will be one of the first to go in. A staple card for some quirky archetypes and fairly weak everywhere else!
Harmless Offering 2
Woot, red just got Donate! A really weak combo just got a reason to go into another colour and be ever so slightly less weak. Not sure there was another use for the Donate beyond Illusions of Grandeur. Probably there is it is just that it is even less usefull...
Wharf Infiltrator 6.5
Looter il-Kor is one of the most underrated cards in the cube and will greatly welcome some support. I actually don't think this is better than the Kor version, you want reliability on your loots and this gets blocked and killed by a lot of chaff. Mr Kor is always unblockable, this is going to need some reasonable burn support to get anywhere close to a respectable level of evasion. One of the other great uses for Looter il-Kor is for holding equipment you really want to hit face with. You equip up a skulk creature and they become far more blockable. The ability to make 2 mana 3/2s is potent but it is icing rather than core effect. Pure unblockable trumps it. In some ways it is a free 3/2 and in others it really isn't. You are paying two mana which is somewhat fair for a vanilla 3/2 in cube. You are extending into mass removal without gaining any real new angle. Further to this you are having to discard dorks to make dorks. Odds on the dorks in your deck are better than 2 mana 3/2s. It will help smooth your draw and curve without losing too much tempo now and again but loots really want to ditch dead stuff not action and dorks are generally action. You can use loads of things like Bloodghast so as to get double value but value only goes so far, you need actual power as well. This is a fine card but it isn't a powerhouse. There will be plenty of occasions where a classic Merfolk Looter would be the vastly superior card.
Decimator of Provinces 7.5
Interesting indeed. Clearly this is not better than Craterhoof Behemoth at being Craterhoof but it does have some perks about it. The body itself is better, compared to a Craterhoof this is irrelevant as the Craterhoof invariably ends games! As Decimator generally has a weaker Overrun effect it is less likely to end games. As such having a solid body with evasion that can finish off what it started is acceptable compensation. Then there is the mixed blessing of the upon cast trigger rather than an enters play one. For cube I like how this card works more but it is far less abusive. Natural Order will not often be finding this, games won't be immediately over if you get this and a Recurring Nightmare on the go as they are with Craterhoof. While you can't cheat out the Decimator and win off the Overrun it is at least an uncounterable Overrun.
Just to show with numbers how much better Craterhoof is we can just look at the number of dorks you need to have in play before casting either represents 20+ trample damage. Assuming we are having 1/1 dorks a Craterhoof needs only 3 others before it threatens 24. With Decimator you need 4 others and it only gets to 21 damage. If you want to pay a more reasonable price for your Decimator you will need five guys! This lower immediate punch is, as mentioned, slightly mitigated with decent body. It is more significantly mitigated by the utility this card offers. You can play it in a non-green deck and just forgo the emerge ability. I don't advise it but if you have the mana and are making Myr Battlesphere all the time then it might be fine. It is certainly something you can't do with a Craterhoof.
The real utility of Decimator comes from the emerge. Nine seems like a lot, it is basically 10! Seven however seems really quite cheap, even compared to Craterhoof. Seven is what Dragonlord Atarka costs and he comes out really fast and easy in a Gr ramp deck. Green has loads of dorks ranging all the way up the curve it is more than happy to sac, some it actively wants to sac. Green has the most spell effects bolted on to dorks. Sacing a Wall of Blossoms is going to be all sorts of common. It won't really cost you anything and then suddenly your 7 mana 7/7 trample haste + two thirds of an Overrun seems like an incredibly good deal. You can dump pricier stuff like Thragtusk and Acidic Slime if for some reason you need a bigger discount. This for four seems like you no longer care about Natural Order! So, while you want to make this and win the game the card has a much wider range of uses than that. It isn't quite Craterhoof at ending the game but it comes pretty close and that is all Craterhoof does. This you can squeeze out in the midgame easily when you are crimped on mana and stuck at 4 or 5, You can use it to snipe out planeswalkers and put a huge tempo threat into play. This card is active from much sooner in the game than Craterhoof. These are all things that make me warm to the card. Eldritch Moon has a lot of powerful top end and game closing cards, it is nice that this one does more than just that.
Geier Reach Santirium 0
This just costs too much for a loot combined with being too risky. It is almost always helping out your opponent just as much as you, perhaps more. If you need loots, play cheaper ways of doing it. If you just want utility lands find ones that only help you.
Eldritch Evolution 3
Cool design, interesting and reasonably fair. This is a strong enough card in its own right, it is tutor and although not strictly ramp it will offer a lot of burst tempo. Overall you always lose 1 mana on your end product. Pay X for the dork, then pay 3 to cast the Evolution and get an X+2 value card (X+2) - (X+3) = -1. If you sac a four drop and get a six drop you have gained two for one value on your mana that turn and this immediate value increases as you go up the curve. This card sits somewhere between a Birthing Pod and a Green Sun's Zenith. It is less powerful and convenient than either and unless green has a real need to sacrifice dorks I don't see it getting much cube play. Still a cool card thought. It makes things like Myr Enforcer seem interesting, dorks with costs you can lower so that this is actual ramp.
Eternal Scourge 1.5
Another very cool card. This one lacks the ability to perform a role, it is just a dork that is hard to deal with and not even a very exciting dork. Without a desire to exile your own stuff for lots of value somehow this card isn't getting play. It is a bit like an Epochrasite. While it is harder to deal with Eternal Scourge the fact that you have to pay for it each time you get it back rather ruins it as a good control tool. Annoying as you like though.
Lupine Prototype 2
Vanilla stuff really fails to excite me. Hellbent is not hard to get especially when it is you or them and even then a 2 mana 5/5 is just kindof meh. I have never loved me a Tarmogyf, decent enough card but not something I have ever felt I was missing in a cube deck. Just kindof high quality filler. Needing hellbent makes this narrow, in the right sorts of decks it is likely better than a Tarmogoyf but filler and vanilla cards just can't afford to be situational.
Whispers of Emrakul 3
This is a fine card but I don't much like it. Discard is best early and weak late and so this scales pretty poorly with delirium. It is always going to be weak when you most want it to be good. The easier cost than Hymn to Tourach in no way offsets the delirium prerequisite to be good. One for one random discard can be game winning, it can outperform Thoughtsieze but it isn't fun and it isn't skillful. I won't be letting this near my cube despite it being far from the worst card.
Grapple with the Past 7
This is my sort of card. Lots of options, nice and cheap, reduces your odds of flood and screw. I especially love the design of this one. You can look at it as a card quality effect (Impulse) that gets more powerful as the game goes on or you can look at it as a Regrowth that you are able to play at the start of the game to good effect. Digging with this turn two for a land or some dork is totally fine, it is essentially what you use all early card quality for, to keep hitting lands or to find some action. Late game this can dig a bit but it also has the whole range of your yard and it is not far off Regrowth + Impulse, yes yes OK, Anticipate... Yes, it only hits lands and dorks which reduces its control utility but it is still a fine midrange, ramp and combo card. With enough decent dorks in my deck, which is pretty likely if your in green, I would be totally happy running this in control. Seven or so would probably be fine. This card also works wonders with delve, flashback and most of the other graveyard synergy stuff.
Stromkirk Mystic 3.5
This is very close to a Prophetic Flamespeaker, a borderline card. On paper the Flamespeaker seems better however the reality may be much closer. Both have effectively 5 stats, trample and a card advantage on connection mechanism. Flamespeaker is a 2/3 which is generally better for a dork that affords ongoing advantage. It also has a spot of first strike helping it out in combat a little. Flamespeaker also scales far better with any buffs due to the doublestrike. Furthermore Flamespeaker provides better card advantage, it is much more likely to hit lands, will clear more all-land draws and will generally just be more of what you want. All Stromkirk Mystic does is hit a little harder on its own and have a madness cost. Madness is too limited a mechanic too over invest in supporting and there are not that many great support cards for it either. You are certainly not making this turn two for madness cost in the unpowered cube. It is the extra power that gives this a hope. Just an OK beater with some upside. I think red has plenty of more direct or powerful 3 drops now that this shouldn't ever see play. Shame, I quite like the card and think it would out perform expectation.
Emrakul' Evangel 2
This is an odd little card. You don't play this for tempo, you don't really play it for value. You can use it to increase the value of other cards, say, ones that make 0/1 tokens but it is all a bit low impact and low power. I have always wanted more sac mechanisms in green, this seems like a fine enough one but I cannot see me ever using it. Far too slow and middle of the road for a sac outlet and too fair to be good in any other way.
Ulvenwald Captive 3
A little two mana ramp card. Two mana ramp has to be really good and this is overly fair throughout. It is nice that it is able to become more relevant late game but paying 7 mana for a 4/6 does not a good card make. Simply put I don't think the perks of having him able to become more than just ramp in the super late game offsets the lower quality of two drop ramp it is compared to the other cube cards. This is a ramp card first and mostly and therefore must be reviewed heavily weighted on that aspect.
Collective Brutality 6
At first sight I loved this card, it had so much promise. I already liked escalate, using it with a discard cost is delightful. The more I imagined Collective Brutality in action however the more lackluster I fear it may be. Ultimately it is very comparable to Blessed Alliance in terms of utility, total power, value and general game swinging potential. It is not the Kolghan's Command I so wanted it to be. Simply, you cannot get a 2 for 1 with Collective Brutality. You can't even get that much of a tempo swing unless you take some card disadvantage yourself. A 2 mana sorcery speed Disfigure is weak, a 2 mana limited Duress is also pretty weak. A two point drain life is again, all sorts of weak. The Duress is the best mode however it is the least reliable, as the target range is so limited you could end up missing on a full hand against even control decks. Disfigure is the most generally useful mode, it will almost always have some stuff it can take out. In reality it is only against the highly aggressive decks where you really want to kill the small stuff. Killing off other small things is not going to be that important against midrange and control decks. The drain is only something you want against a burn style deck and even then it isn't worth a card and 2 mana for 2 life. Direct damage effects are always nice because they occasionally say win the game on them. You would never play them for this role because it is situational but it does go a reasonable way to improving the all round utility of the card. Wretched Confluence is frequently getting kills by doing people 3, perhaps this will earn its keep nugging people for two.
So when you have this in hand and you want to cast it I think you will find it to be like a fairly poor and narrow charm. Yes, you can easily do multiple modes but I doubt that you will get value enough out of multiple modes to merit the card loss. Against control decks the Duress will be fine but you are unlikely to have a good removal target to Disfigure as well. The reverse applies against aggro. It really is only against RDW style decks where you have reasonable odds on all the modes being decent from the outset. In all other matches you are not wanting a 2 point drain life on turn two! Even when you are on the play and they are RDW and make a one drop dork you still have to consider if it is worth ditching a card in the hope to pull something better out of their hand. I think you have to be pretty scared of some specific cards or have total duds in hand for the stats to suggest it is often a good line of play. This doesn't even hit Sulfuric Vortex, the scariest card a RDW has against a black deck. This really is like a lot of Charms, a fine mode against half the field and another fine mode against the other half with a third highly situational one. Whenever you play it it will be fine but it will rarely be exciting. For general purpose use I think this card pays too much in terms of its power for the utility it brings.
Now, while I don't greatly rate this as a general purpose card, mostly because it is a sorcery, I do think it has some great value as a synergy support card. This is going to be one of the first names on the team sheet for Reanimate decks I build in the future. This actively does several things such a deck wants while supporting your combo. Any graveyard themed deck should put this in without a seconds thought. A fair card and one with utility in most situations and matchups that also supports your theme is gold dust. You play crap like Putrid Imp in those decks sometimes just to get your stuff in the bin. While perhaps a turn slower than the really extreme stuff Collective Brutality is so much more doing a useful thing that it shouldn't matter at all early and will be substantially better late. This is one of those cards that will get a lot of play in cool decks but will be last pick a lot of the time in draft. As such it will ultimately be a B cube card unless I am supporting all sorts of graveyard based archetypes in the drafting cube.
Distended Mindbender 2
Not so excited about this one. It may get a bit of play simply because emerge is an interesting ability with lots of potential abuses, synergies and raw power. I don't think this has very good odds on hitting two cards in cube, the average is probably 1.2 or so. Seven mana is not really worth a 5/5 and a bit of discard. The body is too vanilla and middling and discard is not wildly exciting on late game cards. Sure, you can flop this out turn 4 with ease off the back of a 3 drop, Geralf's Messengers sounds like a good one! It is very powerful when you do this but it is going to happen so rarely that you mostly just have an overpriced awkward card in hand.
Wailing Ghoul 1
A classic unplayable card redeemed with unlikely synergy support potential. This has both zombie and graveyard themes going on so it has more chance than a lot of the super low powered cards that end up with a 0-3 rating. Still basically no chance. Good luck trying to beat people making Jace on turn two when you are packing things like this.
Tamiyo, Field Researcher 5
I think this is the third tri-colour walker after Big Ol' Bolas and Sarkhan Unbroken. Both of those dudes are incredibly powerful, generally taking down the game when resolved. Despite this they are often last pick and very rarely played. Both are incredibly unwieldy to cast leaving them pretty narrow. At a glance Timayo looks a lot less powerful (even per mana) than either of the others mentioned. This may well not matter at all however as she is only a 4 drop and in a very playable and powerful three colour set. A bit like how Siege Rhino gets all the play and Savage Knuckleblade gets barely any, it is because Siege Rhino is in a stong set of colours and works well with the general archetype those colours produce. So, Timayo is at least in principle playable, the question remains, is she good?
The -2 is incredibly powerful and versatile but it is expensive and unsustainable. You can use it to protect yourself and Tamiyo or you can use it to force through attacks and kill their planeswalkers. A double lockdown is pretty brutal. As you have to do it as a sorcery it is far better value when you are on the offensive. If you are tapping down their attackers you only really get one turns worth or tap down out of it compared to two turns of value if you tap down blockers. Old Tamiyo could sustainably tap down one threat and so could be made into threats without too much concern as a result. This version is able to protect herself a bit, more effectively for a short time, but over a couple of turns she will fall unless you have other ways of dealing with things.
The +1 is a little more unusual than most and again has a wide scope of utility. You can slap it on two of your dorks, send in and get some cards. You can stick it on two of theirs and make it highly unappealing to attack or block with those dorks. You can go one on yours and one on theirs, get some value and some tempo at once. It is a card advantage tool or an odd protection tool. As you give your opponent options it isn't that reliable as protection, more irritation. As it requires dorks to be in play to do anything at all it is situational but less so than most as it is fine enough to use on any players dorks.
As ever the emblem is potent, it should win the game although not quite as directly as many. With only a +1 to get you there it isn't an ultimate I expect to see often. So, is new Tamiyo good? Er, she is fine. She does some cool stuff and potentially has a really big impact on the game right away. She falls down rather in potency and playability because she is so reliant on having creatures around. It is not like some of the walkers who have no self protection mechanisms who are weak because you cannot really ever play them usefully from behind. It is more like a planeswalker who doesn't really do anything of much, like a Narset (who also can't protect herself but makes up for it with huge loyalty instead). So often you make a Narset and they can just ignore her and kill you because she isn't actually doing much of much. In a fairly creature heavy Bant deck Tamiyo will be pretty good, it will give you a lot of control over combat, might help you push for a win and if not will yield pretty good card influx. In most other kinds of deck she is unplayable, mostly because of her cost. In the kinds of deck she is good in you have things like Knight Errant, Ally of Zendikar, Wildspeaker, Relentless, Kiora, Jace and many more four mana planeswalkers who are safer, less situational and do far more on an empty board. Powerwise Field Researcher is enough but the nature of her abilties combined with her colour cost just make her far too narrow to be an exciting cube addition. I'll get one when they become cheap, I'll throw it in the cube for a bit and some people will try it out as it is new and interesting. It will be fun and different and then I'll cut it to make room for better cards because of all the things I said here.
Summary Dismissal 1
This feels like a weak Mindbreak Trap. The only occasion this is better than the trap is when you want to counter abilities and for that 4 mana is far too much. It is a great tool for stopping Eldrazi on cast effects but they are far too uncommon for this to be any more than a Wish target in constructed events. Spell exile is nice as is mass counter but they are fairly niche. Mindbreak Trap doesn't get any real play because four mana is just too much for what is most of the time just a Counterspell, Dissipate if you really like.
Spirit of the Hunt 0.5
This is close to unplayable. Wolves or Werewolves are not really even a tribal archetype, doable but hardly good. This is only playable in a wolf deck making it beyond narrow. I'm not even sure you would really want this in your wolf deck either, toughness pump is a bit meh.
A return to the Chancellor mechanic with this one. Six bonus life is quite tasty for the right matchups. What is not tasty is a 7 mana sorcery lifegain spell. You can get over 30 heal from this card but really it is way too much of an investment for something you can incidentally get from far better cards. Being a sorcery is really awful too, it makes it beyond unwieldy for the few archetypes that may have considered it.
Ishkanah, Grafwidow 4
This is a quirky little fellow. Green has been after a good replacement for Deranged Hermit for a while now with most of the other colours catching up or overtaking green for having good one man army cards. The big hurdle for Ishkanah to pass is the delirium one. With delirium this card is very potent, without it is not close to powerful enough. You need cards like this to be reliable for general midrange use. Green is one of the weaker delirium generators in the cube too. 6/11 worth of stats with reach and 4 bodies well worth 5 mana, very powerful!
The activated ability is certainly a nice bonus tool to have. It doesn't make or break the card but it may well encourage some black splashes. Having that kind of reach in a green deck is nice. Having the other kind of reach in a green deck is nice too as green struggles with the fliers. Hornet Queen is doing the work of Ishkanah already in cube! For a deck with actual graveyard synergy I think you will have reliable enough delirium to play this guy, for general high power filler in whatever old deck I think this is too inconsistent. This means it likely won't be a card that we draft with much at all.
United Resistance 6.5
Versatile and powerful but on the clunky side for a red card. It reminds me more of Fiery Confluence than any other card. It packs a bit less punch but should be more rounded. I overrated the red Confluence, very good but not that playable. United Resistance is at least playable. Ultimately what makes this so acceptable is that it is able to take out a 4 toughness creature in just one card while also being able to direct damage at face. Three to face for three is an awful deal but as the last three life they have you are going to be fine with that. When it kills a planeswalker it might not be the most efficient tool but it has kept you in the game. Mostly you will just get a free 3 damage in for 1 mana when you are flush with the mana and are using the spell for another main purpose. A bit Searing Blaze like. Tossing a hand and redrawing is more usually a thing you are doing on yourself than on your opponent. There will be occasion for it but it will be super rare. Used on yourself it is generally going to be much of a Faithless Looting. Not wildly exciting as the main function of the card but very interesting indeed to just have as a thing on a card you can tap into for 1 extra mana. It will allow the red mage to include some slightly narrower cards as you have access to more card quality and filtering with this. One thing is pretty sure about this, it is ending any chances Exquisite Firecraft had in the cube. This is enough better than Char, Flame Javelin and Brimstone Volley that it will be my go to 3 mana burn card of choice.
Nephalia Academy 2
A narrow and low impact effect that you pay for heavily in having a colourless land. The only time I can imagine ever wanting this is in a miracle themed deck. Sounds really nice having your opponents Liliana and the like setup your stuff for you.
Oath of Liliana 2
A 3 mana sorcery speed Edict is mostly what we have here. That alone isn't close to enough. Edicts are far less reliable than they used to be with more good cheap dorks and far more tokens. Increasing the price makes them worse in several stacking ways! To make up for all of these failings compared to Diabolic or Chainers Edict the Oath of Liliana is an enchantment allowing for some bonus synergies. Generally irrelevant but does give the card a whole new angle and gives it a far better chance of cropping up in more niche deck ideas. The final thing we have here is a free 2/2 zombie for every planeswalker you make subsequent to the Oath. I'd guess at the average planeswalkers per deck at under 2 in the cube. That isn't enough to milk this Oath enough. In a planeswalker heavy deck with enchantment synergy this card might have a place, it might get away with no planeswalkers and heavy enchantment synergy but it needs something, in islation this card is quite a way off the mark of playable card.
Liliana, the Last Hope 7
Always exciting to see a mono colour 3 mana walker. This is not as powerful as Liliana of the Veil, not by quite some way, however it is good. Very good. Probably the next best 3 mana walker after Lili and Ashiok. I would go so far as to say this is the best 3 mana walker in terms of ability to protect herself too. Giving a dork -2/-1 kills a lot of things and takes a huge part of the sting out of stuff it doesn't kill. The -2 is what holds this card back from being a powerhouse. While a fine ability it comes with many issues. Early game you will generally be relying on hitting something to bring back with the self mill, miss or get something useless and you haven't done much of much. Late game it will have huge value however it will start to get dangerous on the self mill, you might be fearful of losing cards you need or just outright decking yourself. Further to this you need a selection of creatures in your deck in the first place for the -2 to have any chance of doing anything. Despite the +1 being pretty good for a control deck I don't expect to see much of this in control as they need their cards and have relatively few dorks. The +2 does scale nicely with flashback, delve and other graveyard themed mechanics but the overlap of such cards is such that you are rarely having enough to make Liliana worth playing on the merits of her -2 alone. Her -7 is very powerful but hard to get to with low starting loyalty and just a +1 to grow from. Her -7 is also fairly slow to actually win a game or indeed have a vast impact on things. You could get it off and still lose a race or be so behind that you never start gaining zombie momentum. She is weak in and against creature light decks. You need to be able to make use of both the +1 and the -2 on her for her to excel and to do this you both need to be having dorks. I think she will be very solid in the unpowered cube and in draft but I think she will be less commonly seen in the more constructed types of event.
Deploy the Gatewatch 1
White gets a kindof Collected Company for planeswalkers. The thing is, even hitting 7 instead of 4 cards, you need a hell of a lot of walkers in a deck for this to get value. A deck with 13 planeswalkers is not a thing. Certainly not a good thing. You can still get this working with far fewer planeswalkers with good use of cards like Brainstorm, Scroll Rack and Vampiric Tutor however at that point we are looking at a pretty narrow card indeed. You would still likely need 6 or so walkers and that is really pushing it. This can hit pretty good, you can get Ugin and Nicol Bolas in theory which is quite the return on mana! Even just a couple of 4 mana walkers is still a huge tempo swing for you. It doesn't even really lack the instant that much, it would be nice for sure but you really want your walkers to arrive as soon as possible and on your main phase. Very much a build around me card but in cube this inspires no good reason to use it. It is not enough power to merit building around and doing so may well make such an awful deck that you are much better off not trying to deploy the gatewatch.
Selfless Soul 7.5
This is exactly the thing white weenie needed to start gaining some ground back in the midrange heavy cube at present. I want to rate it higher it is just a little too dull for that. Basically this is Wrath protection but it comes in a really convenient form. A 2/1 flier for two can come down on curve and get on with beating down fairly reliably. You can use it to counter spot removal or to make better trades in combat but mostly you are going to find it is the first thing killed, like a Spellskite but a proactive one. Basically if you have creatures and they are your main plan towards victory then this is going to be a card you will consider strongly. Combined with Mother of Runes it is going to be a nightmare. The thing that kept Spellskite and the standard bearer style cards of old Invasion block in check is their inability to provide any offensive utility. Selfless Soul is cheap, has enough power to be relevant and fair for the cost in an aggressive sense and then it has strong evasion! A real winner. You can't even overextend into an Arc Trail with this! So good. Toxic Deluge and other non-destroy removal are still not covered by Selfless Soul but as of now this card is my go to two drop for a white weenie deck. I reckon I will find myself playing it in all sorts of other decks too, the 1W cost is a real blessing here opening up a lot of potential for the card.
Incendiary Flow 7.5
This card seems to be getting some flak from the community because they feel they have been ripped off considering Incinerate. This seems like a poor comparison to me. Exile is >>> bury (or for you spring chickens "destroy without the possibility of regeneration"). There are very few good regenerating creatures in the cube. There are few good regenerating dorks period. Those that exist are either things like River Boa and Spectral Lynx which are not so serious that you have to deal with them or cards like Thrun where targeted burn is of no help. Regenerate is a somewhat overcost ability in magic. It is very easy to just destroy those cards if they tap out. Basically all this is me just saying that Incinerate is better than Searing Spear and Lightning Strike more as a result of the artwork than the bonus effect.
Exile on the other hand is a huge deal and gets a lot of work done in basically every matchup. When you aren't hitting things like Kitchen Finks with it you are still reducing the value of any recursion effects they have, any delve they might have and so on. All the best removal is exile and a lot of the best creatures are ones you really want to exile. Terminate isn't a card I often have in my cube while Declaration in Stone is already a mainstay, the comparison isn't quite so pure but it does demonstrate the value of exile. Incendiary Flow is not a sorcery speed Incinerate, it is much more of a Pillar of Flame kind of card. It is in fact to Pillar of Flame what Searing Spear is to Shock. Now, Searing Spear is a whole lot better than Shock generally. I don't run Shock in the cube and haven't for many years yet I have all three of Incinerate, Searing Spear and Lightning Strike. I also have way more one mana burn spells than I do two mana burn spells. All this is to say that Incediary Flow is an auto include for cube. It solves a lot of problems red has and it does so without costing you much at all. It gives you some redundancy in the exile role and feels like it loses less for the exile effect than Pillar of Flame does. It rounds out the burn options in red very nicely with two drop burn having plenty enough instant cards already. It is near impossible to say categorically that exile is better than being instant or the other way around. Instant is convenient, it is what you want on your removal and burn but it isn't essential for a card to be playable. Exile will periodically give immense swings in the game when it lands on those key creatures. Even if instant does turn out to perform better on average I suspect this will be the first single target 2 mana burn spell in any non-control deck. The rarity of good exile effects in red combined with the swing potential of the card make it seem like a no brainer to me. I only write a review this long because I am surprised other people are not as on board with this card as me. I had Volcanic Hammer in the cube for some time when I first put it together! Two mana for three damage to any target it very playable. Add to that the highly desirable exile for free and you have a highly desirable card.
Crypt Breaker 8
This is exactly the card black has been aching for. Blacks big problem in a midrange cube is having really poor scaling one drops. There are some things like Carnophage, some of the worst aggressive one drops still in the cube. Then there are things like Gravecrawler, pretty good but incredibly linear. Lastly you have the discard, the foundations of black. Great early game but limited in number compared to mana elves, burn spells and card quality and worse than all of them past turn three or so. Black needs cheap cards it can do things with early that still promise to do useful things with later on as well. The kind of card you can play in an aggressive deck but primarily one for midrange lists. Guul Draz Assassin was the closest to this (excluding the powerhouse Deathrite Shaman) black has on offer and it is really slow and vulnerable.
Crypt Breaker is a 1/1, this makes him pretty limp in combat. You are ideally playing him towards the end of your curve if you are pushing tempo rather than value. With a 2 mana activated ability there is a good chance that you will do nothing with this guy at all in the early stages of the game when you have more powerful or important things to spend mana on. As a one drop he is pretty easy to squeeze out for free while you curve out as best you can. In a full on zombie deck he will benefit from all the lord effects and will be much more of a threat on the board. Zombies is an OK tribe as it is and this card will improve it fairly significantly but it is plenty good enough to be playing with no tribal synergy at all.
I would be more inclined towards running this with a discard theme than a zombies theme. There are many more reasons to want to discard things than there are to play zombies! There are lots of very good cards in the cube that benefit from discard mechanics as well as several distinct archetypes. For pure discard Crypt Breaker is slow and pricey however it has some strong utility to make up for this. I wouldn't run it in my black Reanimate deck over something like Buried Alive or Liliana of the Veil or even a Zombie Infestation however if I wanted to also run Recurring Nightmare suddenly the Crypt Breaker looks juicy again. Even without things you actively want to discard black is such a clunky colour that having an option on ditching a narrow or expensive card and spending two mana to do something rather than just waste it is a pretty huge deal. This card gives black action and options early without paying for it in other ways.
Llanowar Mentor is a comparable kind of activated effect and body while being probably a fair bit more powerful than Crypt Breaker's activated. Mentor doesn't see play though because it is a bit too slow and fiddly. Late game a bunch of 1/1s don't do a lot. It is the third ability that makes Crptybreaker a real eye opener. Without it Crypt Breaker would only see play in discard and/or zombie themed decks. As he stands I suspect he will find a place in most black based decks regardless of their need to discard stuff. In our Llanowar Mentor comparison it is like you just get a free Heritage Druid effect bolted on! Again, with just the tap 3 zombies to draw a card effect the Crypt Breaker would only be playable in zombie tribal decks but the fact that there are some decent zombies kicking about in the cube combined with the fact that this guy generates his own makes for a fairly effective card draw engine.
Yes, it comes on a 1/1 so it is easily dealt with but if they are forced into using good removal on your one drops then happy days. Odds on you already got a card or a zombie for a card you wanted in the bin or at least had no use for. You are able to hold the Breaker back and flop it out when it is the third zombie so as to get instant draw. You can draw multiple cards if you have a massive board of zombies. This isn't going to be as rare as it sounds, in midrange cubes often things stalemate with massive boards facing each other down. With cards like Grave Titan, Kalitas, Liliana's and many more spewing out zombies with ease I can totally envisage Crypt Breaker top decks being comparable to Ancestral Recall top decks! I am excited to play with this card and excited for black. It opens up the colour in several ways at once and offers the things black lacks most. This card has received an 8 which is typically only reserved for bomb cards. This is far from a bomb card, it is incredibly fair and balanced. It is fairer than Grim Lavamancer for sure. The reason it is worthy of such a high rating is the play I expect it to get. It is supply and demand hiking up the ratings, black only had the highly contested Deathrite Shaman to fill out the low end with and now it has twice as much. In much the same way that I think Emrakul, the Promised end will be the number one card for rating times converted mana cost I think Crypt Breaker is the lowest power per rating card card I deem to be an auto include (about 6.5 rating and up for the auto includes). It is certainly the lowest power 8+ rated card.
Lashweed Lurker 3
Decent enough but sufficiently narrow and fair to be of limited excitement. Green has loads of chaff it can sac off to reduce the cost of this and the effect is lovely, sometimes even a Time Walk. You can realistically fire this out on turn three if you have a turn one mana elf and a three drop to follow. This would be very potent if at all consistent. What I expect to happen a lot more is that you draw it turn for or five without enough mana to emerge it with your chaff. You will have to put relevant things in the bin to cast it midgame and that makes it far less exciting. The 5/4 body isn't that useful as late game bodies and finishers go. Temporal Spring is great but at card parity it becomes Boomerang and that just makes this a big fat gold Man O' War. It doesn't really solve any problems and it doesn't really create any. As such I don't see it having a place. I give it a speculative 3 as emerge may well have some strong utility and blue and green are some of the more likely colours for that to be the case in. If you just want dorks with emerge then this is a well rounded one that will always be relevant.
Mercurial Geists 1
This is really poo. You pay a whole extra mana over Dragonauts or Nivix Cyclops for limited gain. The kinds of deck that want to abuse this form of prowess dork want cheap stuff like Kiln Fiend that it can flop out quick and start to threaten with right away. Sure, this card can hit for 10 with pretty good odds in the right deck but it is very narrow and is a gold 4 drop with 3 toughness that does nothing when you make it. It even does basically nothing the turn after unless you have some cards in hand and a deck designed for it.
Oh look, an example of the power creep not creeping! This is basically just Dreg Mangler number two. Three power three mana haste dorks are really good. Both this and Dreg Mangler are better than Boggart Ram Gang and that card see so much play. A bit of a misleading statement there as Gruul typically is much more aggressive than Golgari and is happy to take a weaker card that is on theme. The delirium effect will probably come up about as often as the scavenge effect, perhaps slightly more frequently but still very much infrequently overall. The delirium effect is more situational than the scavenge but it is more on theme with a 3 power 3 mana haste dork and can have a much more meaningful impact on the game. Despite the better effect the Mournwillow is the weaker card as 2 toughness is vastly weaker than 3. This will trade with 1 drops against aggro decks, it will die to all the limp removal. On curve it is getting a whole lot less done than Dreggy, it is only really better when it is the last card you play. Powerwise this is plenty good enough for cube but being gold in a pairing highly contested I am not sure how much A cube time this will wind up having. A lot will come down to what the best directions to take Golgari decks are, if it is control and midrange than likely this will sit in the B cube. If aggro starts to shine then this will be a firm A.
Minds Dilation 1
Not quite unplayable as it is pretty powerful and not impossible to get into play. Mostly this is a Commander/EDH card, I certainly won't be playing it in cube. Just the thought of my misery post making a seven drop do nothing when my opponent exiles a land or just doesn't cast anything and continues to kick your head in with their board is far too much to take.
Mirrorwing Dragon 4
This is a very cool card design. If they go to kill your guy they are likely going to kill all of theirs as well. If they don't kill your guy you have a 4/5 flier in play which will do some work at just that. Further to that if you have some kind of pump to hand then you have a pretty serious Overrun machine. Titan's Strength sounds like a lot of damage and scrying. Reckless Charge sounds like total death! Brute Strength, Rush of Strength or Colossal Might I guess are probably the best best way to go for using this as a kill card for reliable old trample. Become Immense and Berserk sounds like a pile of fun too! Needing to play instant/sorcery pump effects to make this good does rather make it the narrow card. It is not like it has hexproof, your opponent can still kill it and very easily should they have nothing much of their own they care about. They might even be able to wreak you using a card like Path to Exile, Declaration in Stone or Lightning Helix where turning all their dorks into lands, cards or life is the best way to go about winning the game. Sadly the bar for top end fliers in red is pretty darn high. This has little impact that turn if made on curve and it is a very slow card all round if you don't have support in both dorks in play and pump cards to use. As a card that requires support to excel this seems a bit too far off the mark for much in the way of regular cube use.
Grim Flayer 6.5
Now this rating is heavily affected by this card being a two colour card in addition to it not being an auto include in the majority of decks in those colours. Despite a mere 6.5 this card is truly exceptional. It has synergy with itself and loads of other good cards and mechanisms. It does a lot for the mana without further investment and is just one of the most high power two drops going. Other than colour making it narrow, the largest concern for this card is when you make him early without delirium and really want to connect with face for the trigger. In such situations a mere 2/2 is getting blocked and killed most of the time, perhaps just killed! In this regard he has much in common with Pain Seer. Without a decent amount of removal, or some combat tricks you are not that reliably getting Flayer through as a 2/2 and therefore are not getting enough out of the card. The trample will be annoying for blocking and will rule out a lot of 2/1 solo blocks but still, this is not a great 2 drop in a lot of matchups unless you have the support for it. If he is the support so to speak then he probably isn't doing as much as you hope either.
In any sort of tempo based Golgari deck I would want this card, even if it has low odds of connecting with face when a 2/2 you have a really good shot at winning the game when they don't have an answer on time. In this regard he is like Goblin Lackey, or more realistically Warren Instigator. Another perk of Grim Flayer than offsets his only functional drawback is that his delirium effect is static. You can gain delirium instantly and as such you are able to represent like you have a combat trick. Mana up with most of the way towards delirium and you might be able to wreak their blocks. As such your opponents will need to respect this potential even if it is relatively low likelihood.
Not only can Grim Flayer be a dangerous card when made early but he scales well into the late game unlike things like Goblin Lackey. A late game 4/4 trample isn't game ending levels of good but it is significant for sure, especially for a mere two mana. Lone Rider can probably be a 4/4 more reliably than this, it comes with first strike and lifelink as well and is just one colour yet I didn't rave about it much at all. Obviously what makes Flayer so exciting all round is the trigger on doing face damage. I value a scry at about a third of a card (draw) and worth about one mana. This is almost always better than scry 3 as it works with all the many many graveyard synergies that exist. I would say that every connect is worth about a card plus a couple of mana, I certainly prefer it to the trigger from Sword of Feast and Famine! It may not feel like all that much as you are not getting actual stuff, it is all quality based and therefore mostly only as good as the choices you make. Dark Confidant fills up your hand, Lotus Cobra gives you actual mana to cast big things. Grim Flayer just ensures you draw the cards you want next turn, it ensures your cards that are best off in the graveyard rather than drawn will be in the graveyard, it ensures you perfectly hit all your Courser of Kruphix triggers. Grim Flayer digs deep enabling you top hit specific cards you need with greater odds than most. When Grim Flayer is connecting it is doing a lot more work for you than a Dark Confidant would in that situation. This is a huge card to push tempo Golgari decks and has some nice other things in this set to go with it. Even if it doesn't end up being consistent enough for the A cube I expect I will still see a lot of this guy getting a lot of play in a good range of decks. I expect to see a lot of alters for this card using Ramsey Boltons mugshot too.
Permeating Mass 1
Very cool design again but not really what we are looking for in cube. A cheap deathtouch monster probably does the job of this better. This isn't good enough as an offensive card and it is too slow and unreliable as a defensive one. I do love the idea of an aggressive player pushing for the win into one of these and slowly having their army turned into 1/3s but much more for flavour terms than any sort of strategic thing. I kind of feel like I might be missing a trick with this card so I haven't given it a flat 0 but still...
Reveler of Chaos 6
Well well well. So best case scenario we have something that is just outright more powerful than Ancestral Recall! That is of course a RR 3/4 prowess plus drawing three cards. The other end of the spectrum is as awful as it would have to be to balance quite how insane it can be. An 8 mana 3/4 prowess with discard four of your own cards! Even in a deck with no synergy at all, and just horribly built it will never be the worst case scenario. If you have 8 mana and 8 cards and you can't come up with a better thing to do than the worst case Choas Reveler then someone has had a very impressive backdraft indeed! Just putting in random red cards or red and blue cube cards then using the modo add lands feature I expect this card would actually perform pretty reasonably. I think you could expect to cast it for 5 mana and draw one or two cards with it on average. Five mana 3/4 prowess with draw 1.5 cards sounds fine, not exciting but fine and this is a more realistic worse case scenario. If we roughly go somewhere between best case and realistic worst case I imagine we won't be miles off the average performance of this card when used in a deck reasonably tailored to work with it. The lower end of that is a 4 mana draw 2 with 3 mana draw 3 not being that unreasonable an expectation. Now, that makes the card sound nutty good and it isn't quite as nutty good as all that. It has much the same issues as Avaricious Dragon in that you really want it to be the last or one of the last cards you play out from your hand. This not only means you deck needs to be cheap and proactive but it also has poor synergy with quite a lot of other similar late game high scaling cards like Fireblast and Treasure Cruise. Even when you do play the Reveler for 2 mana it won't ever be on turn two, it will still be somewhat of a five drop even when you have a pretty perfect draw for it. Aggressive cheap proactive decks really are not big fans of cards that they have to hold onto. With the new scry mulligans having this in your opener will be worse than taking a mulligan in terms of your performance over the first crucial four turns of the game. Yes, it will make up a lot of ground for you when you do get to cast it but it is generally nicer to just have the tempo and control and options early so that you don't need to recover.
Reveler of Chaos does have some potential synergy with graveyard effects but that seems rather too much and a little forced. You already need such a high instant and sorcery count in your deck for it to perform well that having some sort of recursion theme on top sounds dodgy. It is much harder to employ synergy with discarded things when you have to ditch your whole hand. You can't hold a reanimate spell back while tossing the big threat for example. I think therefore this card is incredibly narrow. I can only see it being played in Izzet Prowess and the very aggressive burn heavy red decks. As these are two of the better and more common archetypes in cube I think this guy gets a slot but his heavy requirements do concern me.Certainly both interesting and powerful. I would have to have a practically non-existent instant/sorcery count in my deck before I chose to play Avaricious Dragon over this and that card is fine.
Nahiri's Wrath 6
This set keeps delivering for power. This is one of the most powerful and effective Wrath of God's I have ever seen. It is cheap like Toxic Deluge and it hits planeswalkers like some of the six mana ones! To offset these two extreme perks the card has two weaknesses for balance. One is that the removal is damage based (and targetted) which means most of the protection mechanisms in the cube will allow dorks to survive it. Protection from spells, protection from red, hexproof, shroud, regenerate, indestructible and I am sure there are some more. This isn't the end of the world for just a creature wrath if it is going to be just the 3 mana! Most mass removal effects struggle with some of these things. The big sting for Nahiri's Wrath is that you are always going to be at least one card down on the whole transaction. With actual Wrath of God you get increasing value the more things of theirs that it hits, it forces people not to over extend into it. With Nahiri's Wrath you need to lose a card per target so the more targets they have the more chance there is you simply wont have enough stuff or at least expendable stuff to wipe it all out. You can't really over extend into Nahiri's Wrath. It may get more mana efficient but it never improves in card efficiency. Against a midrange deck trying to curve out with one increasingly good card per turn Nahiri's Wrath will be outstanding. Against control decks that play more planeswalkers than creatures it will be far better than a conventional Wrath. It is against aggressive decks where it is weakest but it is still a Wrath and it will still do reasonable work for you, it will just be really painful comparing it to Pyroclasm in that situation instead...
The actual issue for this card is which decks will play it. Not many red decks have want of Wrath and discard effects and generally have a surplus of somewhat high CMC cards in hand to toss away. It is fair to say that it works incredibly well with the new massive Choas Reveler thing, particularly so in constructed where you can offset the negative impact of running multiple copies. Midrange red is becoming more viable and cards like this will help that a lot. In RG ramp decks cards are much more the issue than mana and so I expect I would play alternate red mass removal. This leaves Izzet control as the only current archetype I can think where I would really want such a card. I guess that and a Welder style red deck after more good discard outlets. Loads of potential in this card, loads of power but again, well balanced to not just be an auto include in loads of places. Generally not close to as good or reliable as Toxic Deluge however it has some potential in many places and roles you wouldn't necessarily expect a Wrath effect in. This opens up red quite well, I don't expect it to see all that much cube play initially but I expect over time it will find homes and archetypes.
Sickening Dreams and Firestorm have some similarities to this and have been used in discard themed decks historically as ways of controlling things a little without cutting into your synergies too much. Nahiri's Wrath is far better against planeswalkers and also fatter creatures, it has better odds on killing the serious stuff you need most dead. Both Firestorm and Sickening Dreams are far too narrow for the drafting cube as things stand and so this doesn't bode brilliantly for Nahiri's Wrath however the card is different enough that it needs quite a bit of testing.
Fortunes Favour 0
Meh. This mildly offends me. I'd accept a 5 card split with this face down pile nonsense but to make it directly worse than Fact or Fiction on two accounts is really off. Fact or Fiction isn't what it was. You can't spend 4 mana to do nothing at all to the tempo of the game until you have survived to at least turn 6. There are better ways of gaining card advantage, either less mana investment or less tempo cost. Fact or Fiction sees barely any play these days, if it isn't better draw effects taking its spot it is planeswalkers and cards that do things that are not just drawing. This should cost 3, then it would be very exciting, I would be eager to play fun mind games with the split, that aspect, despite being a nerf on FoF, is a high skill gimmick which I would like on a half playable card. This will probably still see a bunch of standard play and reaffirm Wizards incorrect notion of what balanced card draw is. Lets print a set with several creatures that can outperform Ancestral Recall but then take a massive dump over some spells that weren't even OP when all the dorks sucked super hard. Rant over, enjoy your mystery piles standard players.
Dark Salvation 0
Just too much mana for the effect all the way up the X curve. This needed to be instant and have some ability to split the -1/-1 counters around the place before it is up to the cube level of potency. Even then it would be pretty unlikely to see play.
Spell Queller 7
What naughtiness do we have here? A Mystic Snake? For less mana? With a much better body? In a better colour pairing? With less intense colour requirements? And Arguably a better counter effect? This seems pretty nuts. Yes, I skipped over the bit where they get their spell back when this leaves play but that isn't nearly as good as it sounds. It is far less of an issue with spells than it is with permanents. Although not directly comparable as one is general disruption and the other reactive removal this feels vastly better than a Detention Sphere. It will do more when you make it and be less catastrophic if dealt with. This is probably necessary as creatures are far easier to deal with than enchantments but still, if the risk is too great the probability of its occurrence matters less. Reflector Mage has been a house in cube and this feels better than that too and probably more along the same lines.
So why is a spell coming back not generally as problematic? Counterspells hit with this will likely have no targets and fizzle. Other removal will have a chance to fizzle if events change and you have the power to work events such that the spell in question is of limited use when it revolves. You can obviously still hit spells that would make permanents, this is good too. Compared to the Detention Sphere you only risk the expected single trigger of any enters the battlefield effect rather than the devastating two! It is a huge tempo swing whatever you hit. A 3 mana 2/3 flash flier isn't that bad on its own!
Exile is also rather nice even if not permanently. It means you can counter uncounterable things and more importantly it means they have no way to access that card or make use of its remains until the deal with the Queller. You counter something with a Mystic Snake or even an Actual Counterspell and it isn't nearly quite so gone as you would often like. There is the final limitation of the card only hitting <5 CMC cards, this is most things in cube. This is such a tempo swing you are going to use it first opportunity to do so most of the time. Every deck will have targets, most decks will be predominantly targets. It is a mild nerf to the card, it keeps it from being totally nuts but doesn't come close to stop it being really good. I expect to see this in most Azorius decks.