Friday 30 June 2017

Hour of Devastation Initial Review Part VIII

Sifter Wurm 1

A new version of Pelakka Wurm. I suspect a lot of people won't even know what that is and not that surprisingly. While both Sifter and Pelakka are super low powered for a 7 drop they are actually quite good in some cases. Pelakka Wurm saw a couple of years window in which it was a premium Reanimate target. While lots of big things can gain loads of life back very few give the life instantly and that can be the difference between winning and losing against the aggressive decks. Pelakka is reliably more life than this and is probably more powerful but this is at least front loaded and has the potential to gain more than seven life. I can't imagine this seeing anything more than sideboard play against a RDW list and even then it is a little bit of a stretch. Mostly it just reminded me that Pelakka Wurm was once a thing in cube which somewhat feels laughable now.

Suncourge Champion 5

This card is reminiscent of both Kitchen Finks and Obstinate Baloth. Both those cards in one might sounds like a great deal but when you have to pay for both those cards it starts to feel a lot worse. The strength of Finks is not that you get a 2/1 but that you get it for free as soon as the Finks dies. When Suncourge Champion dies you get nothing until you invest a further 4 mana. This is a lot more card than either Finks or Baloth but you do have to pay for it. As power is entirely dependent on the mana cost of a thing this thing is a whole lot less powerful than a Finks. It is certainly a lot less dangerous than a Baloth too (a zero mana Baloth is pretty terrifying and makes Liliana a nervous lady).

So, what does this do? How good are the halves of this card? First up this is a 2/3 and 2 life for 3. That is about as good as a Healing Salve and a Grey Ogre. Not great at all but at least good against most aggressive strategies. This is a tedious thing to play through in a deck with lots of one mana two power guys. Should you discard it or have it die you then have the option on a 4/4 for 4 with four life. More powerful but hardly exciting. This card only really shines when you actively want the lifegain. The 2 bodies in one card aspect is so low powered that the value of the card on that side of things is not great. This seems like it a sideboard or hoser card. It feels like it just doesn't do enough in the midrange and control matches. I dislike fundamentally weak cards that just happen to dominate an archetype or two. It isn't the most fun kind of magic. This needs testing to be sure but I think I don't like it. It feels like an anti red card, might just as well play Kor Firewalker... Against red this is better than having a Finks or a Baloth. It is more life and more toughness to plow through and that is really all you care about against a lot of red decks. The extra mana cost isn't so much of a problem as you only want to spend mana on these kinds of effects in those games. Despite the Champions effectiveness against red it seems overly lackluster against every thing else.

Apocalypse Demon 3

Obviously I hate this a lot however it does have a chance of replacing Sutured Ghoul in those kinds of self mill Reanimate decks. This thing trades trample for flying which is a mixed blessing. What it does more relevantly is allow you to forgo filling up your deck with loads of dorks so that you can make a big enough Ghoul to end the game. This just needs things in the bin and so lets you build your list however you like. Outside of a one shot combo kill list this seems unplayable but sadly it seems quite effective in such a place.

Dunes of the Dead 2

An upgrade to God's Eye, Gate to the Reikai. Kamigawa was such a ball ache with names.... This is twice the dork size, non-legendary and comes with the desert tag. It will greatly help empower the coloured pain deserts but neither will be cuting it in cube. This has better hope in some Pox style resource denial deck just as a way to get free permanents into play as buffer. God's Eye and Khalni Garden didn't get used in that way much at all so there isn't great prospects for this. Still not a dud card by any means.

Crypt of the Eternals 3

Quite an odd land but not a shocking one. This does some fixing, it comes in untapped and it has free life to offer. Overall this seems underpowered and a little fiddly but it could be the right fit into certain mana bases.

Graven Abomination 0

Don't be fooled into playing this. It might seem to do two things you might want but it does both of those things badly. If you need graveyard disruption play a good card that does that thing well. Don't play this.

Obelisk Spider 1

This is actually pretty beastly at holding down the fort. It is hard attacking into this. It is also pretty tedious to block despite not being much of a threat. Much as this is a fantastic defensive card it is too linear and in a sphere you rarely go out of your way to specifically include. You don't just play cards because they are good blockers. I like the way attacking into this is not a sustainable thing, you have to be quite ahead for it to be profitable. Nice design but not what the cube needs.

Feral Prowler 3

Hmm, I am struggling to think when I would play this over a Elvish Visionary. It is a much better defensive tool able to really shut down 2/1 dorks and it is just as good as a support tool for cards like Recurring Nightmare and Birthing Pod once online. The issue is when you make this and it just sits there doing nothing and you really needed that extra card already. I don't think this is powerful enough of a counter to be any sort of sideboard tool and I don't think it is reliable enough to be a support filler card. I do rather like it but that is mostly just me liking anything that is 2 or less mana and card neutral.

Beneath the Sands 2

Three mana Rampant Growth is sub par in cube. I am not even sure I like this over Kodama's Reach / Cultivate. I certainly prefer Edge of Autumn and I run none of those in my main cube. Perhaps this has a home in a cyclnig themed deck but I don't see it as a stand alone card.

Firebrand Archer 6

This card has lots of good comparisons. Guttersnipe is the most similar in effect. This has 1 less toughness and pings for one less but it triggers off much more and is itself a mana less. The Guttersnipe was brutal in the right deck but was a bit to much of all your eggs in one basket. It was easily killed and was more of a combo kill than part of an ongoing aggressive strategy. The other cards Firebrand Archer is like are both cube mainstays, those being Young Pyromancer and Thermo-Alchemist. This is not quite as powerful as the Pyromancer but it is quicker, more direct and triggers off more things. It is most alike the Alchemist of all three. It does a little more damage when it can attack and a little less when it can't. It can trade a little better but is a little worse defensively. It triggers off slightly more and can also trigger the turn it comes into play allowing for some surprise burst. It is however a little more vulnerable to removal. All told I like this a very comparable amount to already good and very similar cards.This offers some reach, some value and is just a cheap threat that does ultimately need an answer. Not super exciting but very playable and on theme for most red decks.

Crash Through 3

I'm not sure this does enough enough of the time to be a thing in the main cube but it is a one mana card that does a thing and draws a card. That is almost always enough to ensure a card will see play somewhere and be great in that place. Perhaps this is just a great tool to empower Kiln Fiend decks. One thing I really like about this is that you can use it without any creatures, a lot of cantrip buff cards are useless without targets and as such they become much less consistent.

Burning-Fist Minotaur 3

This falls a tiny bit short in a couple of places. It isn't quite scary enough as a beater and it isn't quite cheap enough as a discard enabler. This has some potential as it is doing a couple of things at once and isn't a bad card in any way. It just isn't quite powerful or useful enough to be a major contender for a slot in the main cube.

Blur of Blades 1

I think this is too low powered and too narrow but I do quite like it. A little bit Searing Blaze! Mostly I just like this because it can somewhat neuter a Kitchen Finks. Thing is, you are still a little behind to a Finks even with this "counter" card so that doesn't look good for Blur of Blades.

Ruin Rats 1

Interesting card but not reliable enough. Without a way to kill this yourself it is poor graveyard hate. It might trade up well but it is also super easy to just kill or ignore.

Grisly Survivor 1

Potential to set this up for one shot kill but this is so weak without support and so low power baseline that it seems like a bad thing to try and do.

Banewhip Punisher 3

Quite close to being there but not quite I fear. To actually kill a thing this is 4 mana and basically sorcery speed. It can take out little things and might be a decent two for one against weenie decks. Even then it comes a turn slower than Arc Trail. I think Boneshredder is likely more consistent than this overall but this does have some game.

Spellweaver Eternal 3

Direct upgrades ahoy! While I have considered Umara Entangler for lists before I have never actually played it. This is certainly better but afflict is not a great ability. It particularly doesn't work towards most blue strategies. I think that the average afflict damage this deals will be a little below two. It will rarely trigger more than once and not infrequently trigger no times at all. In a UR deck that bonus two damage might make this more on theme but then it has to compete with all the actual good red two drops. I think this remains too narrow and low powered to see much play in the cube even with blue having so few decent two drops. If some sort of mono blue aggro deck with a need of lots of cheap cantrip cards emerges then this will likely be a great card for that deck and be fine enough to see some play in others too. Without a premium home, which it presently doesn't have, I don't see this being cube material.

Riddleform 6

This seems very good and has potential in several archetypes. It is very easy to activate this in cube. In blue you can do so on an ongoing basis with relative ease. As such this is a 2 mana 3/3 flier that evades a lot of removal. It even has built in card quality mode. It sounds an awful lot like a Smuggler's Copter which is one of the best cards in the unpowered cube. In control lists this is a threat you can wrath past, it is a cheap way to proactively obtain strong board presence and ensure some good planeswalker control. It is an OK mana sink in such lists as well, often you will leave mana open to potentially counter a thing and not end up needing to. In those cases spending some mana to scry is better than nothing. For control lists this may need some extra support from cards like Think Twice so as to be active enough of the time when needed. Counter magic is obviously not the best means to trigger this... In more aggressive decks like Izzet tempo however this should just be a total house. It is the Copter than doesn't require crewing! Without the looting Riddleform is a much less rounded and efficient card but it is a more aggressive card for sure. It is a little narrow as it will need the support but a lot of decks naturally have enough already and want this sort of card.

Cunning Survivor 2

This is begging to be built into a Kiln Fiend style one shot deck. While this is half the effect as that awful black Grisly thing it is also evasive and a mana less. It would be very easy to one shot someone with this in conjunction with a card like Assault Strobe. A bit silly and stretched for cube but I would not be shocked if this somehow became a modern thing, likely once infect is banned out.

Countervailing Winds 0

Ouch. This kindof sucks the big one. Miscalculation is the card you were looking for, not this. Early this is bad, you can't play it until three mana and you need to have developed a yard for it to have much effect as well. Miscalculation protects you early and then cycles away when it no longer cuts it due to poor scaling. This is poo early and scales better into the late game. It is still never as good at countering as a 3 mana hard counter and it gains very little from its cycling due to its scaling. What a pile.

Unconventional Tactics 1

Two of these and a Zombie infestation and you have as many zombies as you have WW each turn! I have encountered more potent combos... This is cheap to recur but expensive and situational to use. It feels like it has more hope as discard fodder than any thing else as such and that isn't a great place to be in a world with Squee in it. Narrow and weak yet still somehow not utterly without merit.

Saving Grace 1

Cute effect and seemingly mana efficient but so painfully narrow and situational that I don't see this getting used. Certainly not without some special abuses or synergies for the card.

Djeru's Renunciation 5

Cheap disruption that could be used aggressively or defensively. Being situational or low value is rather mitigated with a super cheap cycle mode. While not an exciting card this is very playable indeed. It should win most races, might set up alpha strike or just buy you enough time to actually stabilize. If it isn't doing something like that then it can be something else at the drop of a hat. It might be too low key to see much love in cube but it is about as playable as they come.

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