Monday 4 September 2017

Ixalan Preliminary Review Part V

Revel in Riches 1

Looks like a five mana do nothing sadly. You need your opponent to have dorks and then you need to have them die. You need to do this five times before Revel in Riches has paid for itself and just in mana terms, not in card terms. At a couple of mana cost without the "win the game" clause this card would have been interesting and might have had a couple of applications. At five mana the only potential use this has is as a win condition in a deck focused around creating but not using Treasure. Sounds pretty dull and probably not very good.

Entrancing Melody 0

I don't like this very much. It doesn't scale very well. If Counterspell was Control Magic then this would be a Spell Burst style card! Basically without ramping you can't steal on curve threats with this. You are always paying more than they did for their thing. This is only better than Control Magic when used on a one or two mana creature and those are not the ideal targets for big removal effects like these. Even Dominate feels better than this as you can more safely use it at instant speed. The only real merit of using a card like this to steal stuff is that it cannot be so easily undone with a Disenchant effect. That isn't worth the frequent inability to steal the thing you need to.

Sanguine Sacrament 1

Much as this is a do nothing and shouldn't be put in any drafting cubes it does have some merit as a sideboard tool in constructed decks. Pulse of the Fields still gets a bit of fringe use and this is not wildly dissimilar. This cannot be negated by a low life opponent and it is a lot more mana efficient past the 8 life/6 mana mark. On the flip side this is less use when you have to blow it early. The bottom of deck replacement is relevant in cube and gives a mild inevitability to any deck bringing it in. I don't see this getting used over Timely Reinforcements or cheaper life gain options very often but it is not inconceivable that this will get some use in cube.

Carnage Tyrant 5

This is pretty serious all things considered. There are basically two ways of dealing with this in cube. You either have mass removal or you are only dealing with this in combat. Green also happens to have a massive gap in the six slot with just Primeval Titan being good and everything else being highly average. This is clearly nowhere near the power of Titan but it is quite a different sort of card and thus doesn't have to compete so directly. You can make this turn three pretty easily in green as well. Generally I think this is a little too far up the curve to be wanted as an aggressive card. For the ramp decks it is just a bit of a dork, you could play Tarmogoyf or Thrun if you just wan a big thing and not have to wait until turn six. This is a powerful card at a temping price but I don't really see me wanting it all that often.

Star of Extinction 2

Good flavour on this card and a lot of effect as well. Seven mana is a bit steep for most people's Wrath needs however. It is not impossible that this will see some play in artifact ramp red decks but they already have a lot of options at the top end for this sort of thing.

Boneyard Parley 0

Fact or Fiction meets Twilight's Call?! This is certainly very powerful and should be fairly easy to setup a game winning position from. The issue is of course it is a seven mana spell. It might not need much setup but it still does need some and if I am paying seven mana for a thing I want it to win the game regardless. You usually use cards like this to avoid paying seven mana for stuff. I won't be playing this, I'll either be paying for actual threats with my seven mana or I will be paying two mana to recur the specific massive threat I want to win with many many turns before this sort of thing is an option.

Kopala, Warden of Waves 3

This is pretty much a downgraded Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. It doesn't fly and it doesn't apply its effect to non-merfolk. As such this is purely a tribal card and shouldn't be a consideration outside of merfolk decks. Within a merfolk deck this does have some advantages over Kira. The big one is of course that Kopala is a merfolk and benefits and helps with the synergies. Secondly the ability only affects your opponents thus not hindering your own equipment and such. Kopala shouldn't incur many two for one plays like Kira often demands but it will sometimes simply prevent any action from being taken. There are situations when an extra cost of 2 is more disruptive than a free counter on the first thing. This is a fine card but an incredibly narrow one. It is a crap Kira that happens to be better in exactly one place.

Mavrem Fein, Dusk Apostle 1

Without support this is a terrible Brimaz. It loses the defensive token production, is 1/2 smaller and has no vigilance or keywords itself. Lifelink on 1/1 tokens is hardly a big selling point either. This is a very weak Precinct Captain unless you have other vampires in your deck. If you can drop this and attack with your Heir of Falkenrath then it starts to look like a much more interesting card. A kind of white Rabblemaster. While the cube does have a not insignificant vampire count it doesn't have enough to make this good. All of them are red or black and few of them are 1 or 2 drop evasive dorks. I can see this getting tried out in a vampire tribal deck that for some reason chose to go into white. It will probably be decent in such a deck but the overall deck will be average at best. Don't play this in your draft cubes, it will wildly under perform.

Bishop of Rebirth 0

This is a mini Sun Titan. It is also a terrible cube card. Without an EtB trigger it is risky, with it's poor stats it is also very low tempo. This won't do what you want it to do very often or very well. There are better ways to get things back, better threats and better value cards. Sun Titan is better at all three things and it rarely gets used in my cube.

Rowdy Crew 2

This is yet another card that has interesting things going on that would be quite appealing if accordingly scaled down in size. As a four drop this is just not getting enough done. A 3/3 trample that draws you a card is mostly what this is. A lot better than Kavu Climber but not thing for cube. That is just the floor on this card, it does have a more appealing ceiling as a 5/5 trample that draws you 3 good new cards and discards two things you wanted in the bin. Most of this is wishful thinking, you can't really set it up in any way sensible and even if you could what deck that wants discard synergies also wants a generic 5/5 trample? I don't see this in cube, it is all a bit midrange for red. The card is pretty powerful however. I did quite the extended bit on a discussion on Tibalt as to the general advantages of random draw and discard. Even without graveyard synergies it is still a form of mild card quality. This is slightly better than draw a card although it might not always feel like it.

Right, I think that is all bar one of the cards that was spoiled early. Some black dork that makes people lose a third of their life. Image to blurry to work with at present. Back to the usual chronological order from 1st of Sept.

Sentinel Totem 4

This is the first card like this in a long while that actually gives Relic of Progenitus a run for its money. I may even consider running this over Tormod's Crypt. This is a very cheap card with a low upfront cost that does what you need it to do when you need it to do it no trouble or fuss. Relic gives you a card which is far better than a scry but it only does this after you sac it off. It also has a cost associated with the full graveyard removal and could prevent you doing stuff if you need to stay safe. Drawing a card is great but you should be in a great position if you have just used your sideboard card. A scry up front feels far more useful than a draw some way down the line, potentially never. Especially when it comes at half the price, all also up front. You might play Relic maindeck over this as it is less of a dead card when not useful but in most actual sideboard roles I much prefer the cheaper more convenient options. In slower decks I suspect I will chose to play Sentinel Totem in my sideboard over Tormod's Crypt. I will have the time and mana to afford one to get a scry. In the more aggressive lists I would rather have that mana free to invest in tempo. This is a good card design, it is fair, it does its job well and it gives you construction choices rather than being directly better or worse than something. I expect this to see plenty of sideboard play in plenty of magic formats including cube. Still not enough of a card or an effect to run this in a drafting cube or maindeck though.

Ixalan's Bindings 0

In singleton this is just a terrible Oblivion Ring. This is too slow for formats other than standard but in standard this could be really oppressive. This could prove pretty brutal against even quick decks if they don't have ways of removing it. If one of these hits the first of something you have four of then you have just had a good 5% of your deck turned into dead draws with a chance of effectively discarding a card or more as well. I can just imagine the angry sob stories of people just losing to a couple of these when they then only draw further copies of those unplayable cards or just happen to have loads of them in hand. At least this isn't like Meddling Mage and cannot also lock people out of the ways of answering them.

Huatli, Warrior Poet 6

This is a good walker, perhaps even deceptively so. The -X seems very powerful to me. Despite her power I don't think this has much hope in my cube. Too high up the curve given her colour pairs, too narrow as a gold card and too much in the way of strong competition from other comparable walkers in her various ranges and categories. Making 3/3 tramplers for 0 is great. It is great value, great defense and great inevitability. On an empty board I would rather it came without trample but with +1 loyalty as per five mana Garruk but I won't complain, it is a pretty comparable and very strong ability. The +2 may seem limp but does a lot of stuff that makes this walker well rounded. Flopping down a walker and gaining some life while going up to five loyalty turns any sprint race into more of a marathon. You won't always have a dork to gain life with but in those cases the 3/3 is still not a bad option. You will force a lot of awkward plays that will be too much for a lot of aggro players. This needs to die right away, it is one of the hardest walkers to power through but she also has a decent range of ways to make her tricky to take down.

Hitting the 0 button repeatedly will win a lot of games. Occasionally one hit of the +2 will basically end a game. I can totally see there being times I want to hit that +2 either when it gains me no life or when I don't care at all about the life. The power of the the -X seems well worth stockpiling loyalty for. It is a multipurpose ability that can be used right away if needed, planeswalkers with three immediately useful abilities are typically powerful and Huatli kindof has 4. The -X can be a kind of Forked Bolt / Arc Lightning or better should you have had time to up the loyalty. It can clear out a bunch of annoying small dorks quickly and efficiently. Alternatively it can break open a stalemate by making upto X creatures unable to block so as to alpha strike them. This makes Huatli one of the more dangerous planeswalkers in the game before she is even in play. You have to respect her potential rather than just reacting to her. It also means she has 3 ways of protecting herself, either just gaining loyalty at 2 a go, making 3/3 blockers or by pining things to death. I guess also by winning the game on the spot too! She may not be quite as safe as Gideon of the Trials or Kaya the Ghost Assasin but she offers way more options that are all useful and proactive measures to staying in play. The more I think about this walker the better it seems. Perhaps it is just strong enough to throw in alongside Nahiri. Objectively this is very very good, it is only contextually where I doubt its viability.

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