Thursday 7 September 2017

Ixalan Preliminary Review Part VI

Wakening Sun's Avater 0

Why even bother printing this? At mythic too. You can pay six for a Wrath and get something comparable to this body and Phyrexian Rebirth isn't even good. You can't cheat this in for value as the effect doesn't trigger. The total vanilla body makes this a super weak top end threat as well, easy to remove, easy to chump.

Contramestre da Olho Morto (Deadeye Quatermaster) 3

That is such a massive name upgrade on the English name version! Sadly quality of name has no baring on a cards worth in magic. This is a fairly poor tutor. Three is usually too steep a price to pay to find something in cube. While this does come with a bonus 2/2 it is not something you want to have to pay more on your tutor for. Equipment and vehicles are not something you can play lots of, the more you have the weaker and riskier they become. Too few and this card will have low selection and even miss, too many and your deck sucks. This card doesn't really provide a wide range of options even when you do have a couple of targets as the cards this thing finds all do much the same sort of thing. This falls short compared to Stoneforge in multiple ways. Not only is it twice the price it lacks the ability to put things into play for two mana which is a pretty big part of Stoneforge. It is not just a two for one but it is often a tempo play as well. Quatermaster is only a two for one and never a tempo play. Lastly Stoneforge is in a colour that wants equipment while blue generally doesn't have the creature count to sensibly pack equipment. This card is often worse than a 3U 2/2 with an EtB draw a card effect and that is far from a playable card. I do like how this thing helps you have crew or something to equip and that we have a vehicle tutor but I just don't see where this gets play. While equipment have featured in combo decks this is just such a bad tutor I don't see it making those lists. It is too narrow and too low powered just to run as a value two for one card. It does let you lean a little more on a specific equipment I guess. I have had many a mono blue aggro deck carried by a Jitte. I have lost to many control decks with aggro lists simply to a hard cast Batterskull. Seems like a bad choice of card to have as your silver bullet finder, I feel like a Trinket Mage has a much wider range and allows for a more rapid response.

Primal Amulet / Primal Wellspring  2

Much as I love the design on these flip to lands cards this doesn't seem close to cube worthy. The places that want this sort of thing want to be quicker than this allows for. You can get comparable cost reduction effects for two mana. The doubling effect is nice but feels like overkill, it also removes your cost reduction thing when you flip it which might be annoying. If you are a combo deck the odds on you getting multiple copies with this are low. The ideal situation would be playing this and then next turn going off a bit in a storm sort of way flipping this in the process and then using it to copy your finishing storm spell. It might be quite an effective one two punch but you still need to have all the other good storm things to go with it. It is also more easily disrupted than usual and does not really allow for those super early storm wins. You could conceivably run this in control lists but they will have less use of a Fork each turn than you might expect. They will also really suffer from spending a turn making this big do nothing.  This card is undoubtedly powerful, as soon as you flip and copy a spell you are up a good amount in both cards and mana from it. All you need is time and that is sadly something you rarely have much of in cube.

Shaper of Nature 0

Fine stats and great utility. This is the sort of card that makes for a powerhouse in limited. In the cube however generic dorks with abilities you need to spend mana on generally don't work out so well. Most games in cube are decided before either player runs out of things to spend their mana on and so paying four for a +1/+1 counter is too infrequently useful to be something that adds much value to a card.

Siren Stormtamer 3

Not bad but not great either. Very few spells target players, mostly black discard and red burn. Red will generally clear this out of the way before it does anything too annoying. Mostly this is creature protection and in that role it isn't super exciting when you can have Spellskite or even cards like Mother of Runes. A 1/1 body, even with flying doesn't get that much done nor is it that safe. You need creature buffs for this to be a worthwhile body. There will certainly be places for this card but it seems too narrow for the cube. Without lots of creature synergy I don't see how this is better than most of the decent one mana blue counterspells.

Drover of the Mighty 2

I don't anticipate controlling many dinosaurs and so this seems to be a 1G 1/1 Birds of Paradise. That is actually still quite playable in most cubes but there are plenty of better options. If for some reason the cube does fill up with loads of good dinosaurs then this will be much more interesting but I don't see that happening.

Wanted Scoundrels 1

Lovely design and flavour. It is hard to know how good or bad this is. I can state with some confidence that if this gave up the treasure as an EtB effect it would be one of the worst cards in the game! I would more often than not let my opponent have a 4/3 if I could have 2 mana and that deal wouldn't even cost them a card as this thing does. As this has to die to give up the treasure it is less of a liability. It punishes removal light decks and ones super low to the ground. Sadly it doesn't punish them very much, a vanilla 4/3 isn't all that. I think the few decks this is good against combined with how mild a perk it is utterly fails to compensate for those times this gets killed on sight and then throws the game due to the resulting tempo boost it conceded. The best way of looking at this card is to consider it as a 4 mana 4/3 and, better still a 2 mana echo 4/3. Albino Troll hasn't seen play in a very long time and so I think it is pretty safe to call this bad. Black does love an all in aggro deck full of bad cards and so this isn't completely without hope...

Wild Growth Elemental? 0

Cute card that has too narrow a trigger condition for cube. In some hypothetical standard explore deck this could be a key component. Odds on such a deck wouldn't even have enough playables to replicate at all profitably in constructed cube.

Conqueror's Galleon 0

Well isn't this the oddest of all cards. On the face of it this seems utterly awful. You pay four mana and then have to tap four power worth of dorks, the following turn, just to get a land. Feels like Solemn Simulacrum has this well beat! So where is this even potentially looking better than Wayfarer's Bauble? I guess you can block with this... hardly exciting but you might have a bunch of X/1s you don't want to die against their big trample dorks. You certainly are not playing this as a wall even if it can occasionally be used that way. The other ways in which this gets good are in the super late game where you have mana spare to loot, draw and recur stuff. The looting is pretty limp as is the draw. A man land will have actually won a game by the time this has done much of much looting and drawing. The recursion is more scary but it is so expensive I see it getting used less often than Westvale Abbey flips, significantly less in fact. I imagine anything other than tapping for mana will happen comparably or less frequently to an Abbey flip. This is a very odd card. Sadly it is also slower and a lot less powerful than the other cards that flip into lands for the most part.

Thaumatic Compass 3

This card melds together Journeyer's Kite, Maze of Ith and Temple of the False God. The last one is the weakest comparison as it only ramps you from seven to eight rather than from five to six. That boost to six is pretty huge in the bigger decks in cube but a ramp from seven to eight just doesn't do enough. It is too late and effects too few cards to be of that much value. Also, if you use this as ramp you cannot at the same time use it for protection. I think this card is better than Maze of Ith but then I think Maze is a terrible card. Sure, it is playable in niche lands decks but in your run of the mill decks it is a terrible idea to gimp your mana production simply to negate an attacker. Mostly this card is a Journeyer's Kite as most games don't get to seven lands. As such it is fine but not cube worthy. It is just a little too slow to generate value and will result in you getting killed by people making tempo plays.

Sanctum Seeker 1

A terrible Hellrider! No haste but +1 toughness, only triggers off vampire attacks but also gains life! Both clearly huge downgrades. This fails to handle walkers efficiently which is a big strength of Hellrider. You might play this in a tribal vampire deck but even there it is a little bit average. Certainly don't play this anywhere else ever.

Kitesail Freebooter 6.5

Well now this is a nice new take on Mesmeric Fiend. The effect is downgraded from Coercion to Duress but that is generally not a big deal. These cards are almost always used to take away removal. Missing with a card like this is also less of a big deal than when you miss with a Duress. Combo decks also play cards like this now and again and in those the inability to hit creatures will be fairly minor. Most combo decks with creatures are again looking to take removal, if not then other disruption like countermagic. So, while a pretty small downgrade on effect given how these cards are used it is still certainly a downgrade on the original Fiend or indeed the newer Brain Maggot. Does the improved body sufficiently compensate for this downgrade and if so does it compensate enough to promote this into my drafting cube where I presently have neither Maggot nor Fiend? An extra toughness and flying is huge on most creatures, you can add those things to most cube cards and the result is usually worth a mana more. Swiftspear into Stormchaser mage for example. By that logic that means you are getting a 1 mana Mesmeric Fiend. Where this logic falls down is that a 1/1 is pretty worthless. You typically get little value out of improving it as it scales so poorly. Yes, a 1/2 flier is a lot better than a 1/1 but is it enough better to be actually worth something in its own right? I think the answer to that is yes but only just. This is that little bit more durable allowing for some removal to fall short and for some defensive use. It is annoying for planeswalkers and actually good if you have buff effects. This will hold off Lingering Souls tokens fairly well. It should do enough more than a 1/1 that overall it is a good card in cube. I think this is just annoying enough even when it isn't great. Sure, you see two burn spells and know your Freebooter isn't long for this world. You still get to see their hand and you still force them to use a removal spell (somewhat of your choice) on the Freebooter before they get back to what they wanted to do. That sounds like quite a big win for a cheap and painless card most lists can include.

Pirate's Cutlass 0

This is bad even in a pirate deck. No more needs to be said than that.

Overflowing Insight 0

Mythic huh? I thought that was supposed to reflect complexity. Or at least power? Well, this has neither. At sorcery this is a huge risk and at seven mana it is stupidly hard to play. I prefer basically all the draw X spell options in blue, especially the instant ones.

Savage Stomp 1

I mean, this is pretty good removal in a dinosaur deck. It is also unplayable anywhere else and I don't anticipate making any dinosaur decks any time soon.

Wily Goblin 3

I already read this as Willy Goblin every time... I am a little disappointed with this card. I was hoping to have the EtB treasure maker more along the lines of Thraben Inspector as a W 1/2 or something although I do appreciate the potential danger of making all four turn one! They basically made this as bad as they possibly could without rendering it entirely unplayable. At even 1R various goblin decks would be interested in it. With better stats tempo decks would probably have been keen, and by better I mean like a 2/1 for RR. This isn't really value, it is a Lotus Petal and a Mon's Goblin Raiders. You pay a mana over for the meld and you didn't want a 1/1 really either. This seems to expensive to play just as a Lotus Petal and too low impact to be something you would play in aggro or midrange decks. As far as ramp goes this is super crap compared to a Talisman or most red Ritual effects. I really really wanted a cheap treasure making dork but I don't see what I am supposed to do with this card. I cannot think of a deck where this is something I would want. Goblin tribal decks come the closest but this has basically no chance making such decks as they have too little space to include all the good cards. In some thin and crappy tribe this might have had more hope.

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