Thursday 14 September 2017

Ixalan Preliminary Review Part XI

Raider's Wake 1

Black Honden meets Megrim (or Liliana's Caress for you new kids!). This is actually a reasonable deal even at four mana and with the raid requirement. The issue is not with how good this card is relative to comparable cards but how good the various effects are contextually. Things based on discard have diminishing returns. Very quickly most decks have nothing to discard and you get no value from either half of the card. You can play Megrim Memory Jar decks in cube, they are fun but a bit of a gimmick. This has some hope in such decks although mostly as a terrible Megrim as I don't see such decks fulfilling raid all that often. You cannot play cards like either half of this very often in cube without ways to ensure your opponent has plenty of cards to pitch as they are only good against heavy counterspell decks unsupported.

Lightning-Rig Crew 0

I misread this at first and thought it was any spell not just pirates that untapped this. It would have been a big Thermo-Alchemist and would probably have been ok. As it is it is unplayable garbage.

Ruthless Knave 3

This is a bit slow and durdly but it also does quite a lot. It reminds me most of Flesh Carver which has been a standout cube card. While this is close to Carver it is rather more awkward all over. The +1 attack is far less useful than intimidate, the larger upfront sac cost reduces that aspect of the cards utility, but worst of all this card does nothing if it is simply Shocked on sight. With Carver you are pretty happy to toss it down and trade or run it into removal while this you need to be a bit more sparing with else it is a pretty weak card. Saccing three treasure to draw a card is pretty pricey. It is 3 dorks and 9 mana to draw 2 cards... Knave is not a good source of value, he is a sac outlet and somewhat of a mana battery. If you have some big payoff cards then Knave could really help get you there. In a long grindy midrange game you will also eventually win through bonus cards and mana but this will be pretty rare. Compared to most good value cards this will be pathetically slow to pull you ahead. Tireless Tracker for example will run circles round this. Another big issue I see for this card is the upfront sac cost. It is six mana to lay and use this once meaning you won't often have the sac option open early in the game and if you do it will have cost a lot of tempo. It feels like it takes too long for this to come on line in a useful way and that will be rather too late in the day the the ramp and sac options it mostly brings. Interesting card for sure, it might find a place in some focused decks but ultimately it is just on the low side for power.

Rigging Runner 6.5

This is a good deal better than Skarrgan Pit-Skulk in most cases. It should also be better than War-Name Aspirant however on that case I am not as sure. The thing is that this utterly fails as a one drop. It is a Tundra Wolves or Stone Throwing Devils on turn one. This is like Serra Avenger, a cheap overstatted card that cannot be played on curve. War-Name is at least a two drop. Assuming you can make both with raid on turn two which is better? A 2/2 first strike and a spare mana or a 3/2 with super limp evasion? It is pretty close even if you don't use the spare mana and the potential for that mana in red on turn two is pretty big. This isn't an auto include in aggressive red decks, they will need a sufficiently high creature count as well as generally low curve for this card to really shine. This is a filler card but it is a pretty powerful one. If you reliably have raid on turn two and three and have a deck of mostly one and two drops this card will be top rate. It is not worth comparing to other one drops however as it is not fulfilling the same role. The fact that this is seeming worthy of the cube implies Stormblood Berserker should probably make a return. I think red has become better at getting in attacks early with more better cheap dorks and burn. Rigging Runner has a pretty decent ceiling and a substantially better floor than Berserker. Seems good but not insane.

Sword Point Diplomacy 0

This isn't good although it might look it. The only place you could reasonably play this in cube is an aggressive deck and it turns out black has far better ways to draw cards in an aggressive deck. To be honest, it jsut has far better ways of drawing cards whatever the occasion. So Murmers from Beyond is a card and it is terrible in much the same way this is terrible. Most of the time they will let you have two useless cards and exile the one relevant one. They can exile more if there are more relevant ones. They know what you will get from it as well so they can play around things from it too. Sure, compared to Murmers this will cost them 3 life for the same effect however this is a slow old sorcery and this gives them more options on what to do and this fails to fill up the yard very well. All round I don't like this very much. It is under powered, narrow and incredibly unreliable.

Field of Ruin 7.5

This is great. Finally they have made a fixed Strip Mine after 25 years of trying! This is not over powered like the first couple of iterations nor is it overly polar like the various fairer newer versions. This is exactly what slower decks desperately needed in the cube. Now things like UW control can toss in one of these and not be completely cold to Wolf Run or random manlands. This is actually better than a Wasteland in those kinds of decks. Basically, you run this if you expect to struggle against utility lands or you run it when you have a very solid mana base and want to punish shaky multicoloured builds. In my cube in particular it is pretty common for 3 colour or more decks to have zero or one basic lands. This punishes greed more than it punishes bad lack as Strip Mine and Wasteland do and I am OK with that. It also can't be used until turn three and has a tempo cost to use. If you try and colour screw someone early game you may well hurt yourself in the tempo department more than you hurt their plan. This has some utility as fixing for yourself, if you really need a certain basic you can just blow this and go find it. You can also try and abuse it with cards like Aven Mindcensor and Leonin Arbiter. In cube I find such things a little thin against any sort of limited deck, it is only really combo things that such plans will beat well. It is worth noting that the lands come in untapped which has a couple of ramifications. Firstly, it means if you have follow up plays this effectively only costs two mana to use. Secondly, it means you are potentially giving your opponent and extra mana. Perhaps they are at three untapped lands and by using this on them you let them cast a Fact or Fiction. This card is incredibly well designed like quite a number from this set. It is an incredibly useful effect that loads of archetypes will run, it was a rather needed addition with so few good alternatives on land removal. It has a lot of subtle interactions and should lead to complex choices and cool plays. Despite all of this the card is not all that powerful. Designing fair cards that will see a lot of play is hard so full marks for this.

Kinjalli's Caller 1

Wow, they are really pushing these dinosaurs. Two cheap and potent cost reducers is a pretty big deal. You can make a turn 3 hasting five drop dino with this and the red one, or better yet, three three drop dinos! I still don't think there are quite enough payoff dinos to make even a bottom tier cube list yet but these enablers and support cards help get you a lot of the way there.

Tilonalli's Knight 0

This isn't good enough for a standard dinosaurs list so it certainly has no hope in cube. This is a limited card.

Skulduggery 0

This looks like a lot of value and options for a nice cheap price but I think it is misleading. You need a dork and you need them to have one too. This is a weak combat trick, a super weak pump spell and a poor removal spell. It is only good when you are near the ceiling and that won't happen often enough. I'll take a Borrowed Malevolence over this all day. It can do all the things you want Skulduggery to do and it does them without needing certain conditions. Mostly that is killing their turn one play! It also has the potential for that dream swing two for one. So rarely will this happen that I am not too bothered about that extra cost to escalate. When it does happen it will still be good enough to spend three mana on doing. Skulduggery is too narrow and low impact in the late game are far too conditional in the early game.

Brazen Buccaneers 0

Neither outcome for this exploration results in something you would pay 3R for in cube.

Dire Fleet Hoarder 4

Carrier Thrall is a filler card in my cube at best. It has never been a card I felt like I wanted more of. This newer version seems somewhat less powerful and less useful. Sure, it offers fixing and artifact synergies. The difference between a colourless and any coloured mana however does not feel like it comes close to a 1/1. Creature synergy is somewhat more prevalent than artifact synergies too! Hoarder is just a limp dork that helps you out with some mana while Thrall does pretty much than role as well as a couple more. This is a fine filler card but it doesn't seem needed presently.

Axis of Mortality 0

Funny multiplayer card but pretty poo in most other cases. Seems like a worse counter to aggression than lifegain. Seems like a pretty unreliable counter to infinite life combos or lifegain decks too.

Deathgorge Scavenger 5

This is OK but it isn't good. It certainly isn't the second coming of Scavenging Ooze. This can attack as a 4/3 or it can gain some life all the while exiling potentially relevant stuff, all OK things and some decent flexibility. A couple of things make this on the weak side. First up is inability to remove stuff at instant speed or even in bulk. This just doesn't really disrupt a reanimate deck enough to have much merit as a counter card. Secondly, this just dies to most removal netting you very little value. A lot of the time this will look like Kitchen Finks without the persist. i.e. bad. Sometimes it will look like a big overcost Mardu Woe-Reaper... While you can play three drops that don't immediately do stuff you need them to eventually do more than this. This isn't a dangerous threat. This isn't impressive ongoing value. It is at best very mild graveyard disruption on a mildly efficient dork. A 3/2 lifelink dork with exalted would be better than this overall and such a card doesn't sound very exciting.

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