Thursday 4 January 2018

Rivals of Ixalan Preliminary Review Part IV

Path to Discovery 0

Four mana do nothing! Exactly the sort of card you are not able to get away with in any sort of high powered format. This can do some funky things with cards like Deranged Hermit but the reality of cards like this tend to be giving your opponent a free Mistbind Clique trigger. Do nothing cards need to be super cheap so as to not destroy your tempo. If Path to Discovery looks good to you then might I interest you in this lovely Gaea's Anthem. It is better because it it cheaper, it is better because it effects the things you already have in play, and it is better because it always does one thing and not randomly one of two things and so you can plan for how you want to use it.

Shrine Atlisaur 0

What am I missing here? Why is this five mana and not three? Or put another way, why is this a rare and not an uncommon? Regardless of the application this would have been too good for if it were not made awful it certainly isn't even near good when it comes to cube so we can move on. Would be curious to know quite how this turned out both as a rare and a complete pile though.

Paladin of Attonement 4

This is another curious one. It is certainly going to see some play but the question is if it is good enough for the drafting cube or if it is just a niche card you dig out and use in one or two quirky places? Now if this was a black or red card then it would be much more likely to perform in cube as they both want life more and are more able to readily trigger the growing. With pain, sac and shock lands most colours can easily hurt themselves but you really want something like a Bitterblossom, Cryptbreaker or Asylum Visitor giving you reliable or ongoing ways to pay a life for something useful as well as the lands. If you are playing off colour pain lands to support this you are probably doing more harm than good and there will be a very limited supply of on colour pain lands for you! This card feels a bit like a Champion of the Parish to me, it is not quite so bursty but it should grow more steadily and consistently for longer even in top deck low resources stages of the game. If you can play this on a turn you hurt yourself then this feels great, if it is a 2/2 in their turn while it still has summoning sickness then you have a good card. If however it has to spend much time a s a 1/1 and a 2/2 then it is a bit slow and vulnerable for my liking. This might well just need a tad too much support for how powerful it is. The kinds of white decks playing cards like this are not frequently under pressure from attackers and so it is far harder to grow this in both upkeeps. That being said, any card that is an OK early play that has the potential to scale up as the game goes on into a heavy hitting serious threat is a win. This does that without any need of direct investment in it with cards or mana as you do with things like Student of Warfare etc. Certainly going to test this out in the drafting cube.

Seafloor Oracle 4

So this is the draw card merfolk decks were looking for. No longer will they look at Bident of Thassa and be temped, now they have a proper merfolk option! The issue with Kumena is that when you have lots of merfolk you want to attack with them as they often have evasion and bonus stats, well, here we have the solution. Make some fish, pump them up, turn one of their lands into an Island, flop out your Oracle and swing in for a nice healthy injection of cards and damage. Now your opponent has to chose if they are dealing with the lord and giving you loads more cards or if they are dealing with the Oracle and taking another massive kicking. You only play this in merfolk decks and so it is a narrow card but I think it it one of the better merfolk options above two mana and I expect to find it in most merfolk cube decks going forwards.

Merfolk Mistbinder 4

I think this thing also cements Simic as the way to build merfolk decks in cube now. Just having another two drop lord to put in is a massive deal and makes green too tempting with it's quality one drop fish! Clearly this is weaker than Lord of Atlantis and co but it is absolutely superior to Coralhelm Commander and probably also Merfolk Sovereign.

Timestream Navigator 0

Well this seems shockingly bad. Pay six mana, wait a turn, rely on a 1/1 living AND have 10 permanents just to do something I can do with none of that baggage for five mana? Sure, there are some mild potential abuses for this and infinite turns but I suspect none of them are better than those that can be done with Time Warp and co. so I don't see this for cube.

Starving/Hungry/Thirsty Paladin 0

Far too much downside for what feels like baseline stats rather than good stats these days. I would probably play a 1W 3/3 in most of my white aggressive decks but I wouldn't be at all excited about doing so, I would consider it a filler card. So, one that untaps infrequently sounds utterly shocking. This is a better wall for control decks than it is a beater in aggro decks.

Watery Ambush 0

This would be poor at 3 mana, at four it is laughable. White and red can pay two mana for a pair of 1/1s. I hardly think the ability to pay four mana to make a fish unblockable is worth that significant price up. I am not entirely sure how often hexproof is going to be something I am happy about on a 1/1 but it feels like pretty rarely.

Jadelight Ranger 6

I think I am on board with this dork. I think it is the proactive option rich modern alternative to Yavimaya Elder we needed. This can be a beefy 4/3 that scrys away two weak things and fills up the yard for deliruim and delve. It can be the 2/1 Elder that draws two land without having to die before hand! Most commonly it will be a Rogue Refiner that gives you a scry instead of energy. In mono colour that is pretty spot on. This is a great value, speed bump and filler card. It has some capacity to mould into what you want it to, it has a decent shot at digging you to lands and just seems all round good. I don't think it is all that much of a merfolk card, I just think it is a great all round card for decks that happen to be green! Merfolk Branchwalker wasn't impressive as an all rounder as you had too little control and when it went wrong it often wasn't worth the card cost. Jadelight has so much better odds of not having a card cost or being a relevant thing for your card cost that I think it is going to vastly outperform the less adventurous Branchwalker.

Kumena's Awakening 0

These ascend cards are on the whole far too weak on the baseline to be any sort of consideration. Howling Mine is terrible in most cases at two mana so at twice that there is no hope. This probably wouldn't be all that in cube if this was always only you drawing.

Ravenous Chupacabra 6

This seems pretty playable. It is basically a Skinrender rearranged a little. This has a worse body with lower stats and a weaker type but it has a much more reliable removal trigger. I would say Terminate is more than 1/1 better than Last Gasp but it is a pretty close run thing. What I like most about this is that it is unconditional removal in black which is rare. While Nekrataal and Boneshredder are fine cards they are made quite a chunk worse by sharing the same restrictions on targets as so many black removal effects. I anticipate running this alongside Skinrender, to any still running Nekretaal I suggest directly replacing it with the Chupacabra. It isn't exciting or powerful but it is appropriate and consequently should see plenty of action.

Daring Buccaneer 1

Totally unplayable outside of a pirate heavy deck which as yet I have not attempted in cube. Pirates seems to have no real payoffs and this certainly isn't one. I have come to expect more of my one drops. A 2/2 is about baseline in my head and so this is just a card with a drawback. Like, instead of dash you get "pay 2 more mana" with this crap. This is one drop filler in a pirate deck that isn't yet, and will probably never be, a thing.

Legion Lieutenant 4

Dang... I guess now tribal vampires does really want to be Mardu. Two drops lords are pretty spicey, you don't need much extra to make that enough of a pull towards a colour. I guess time for me to go back and re-evaluate all the white vampire options for tribal shenanigans. At least this has no real effect on drafting cube, tribal things are not great for drafting and vampires is probably still a little way off being top tier tribal. Still, this is a big hand in getting there.

Induced Amnesia 3

This is one of those dangerous combo cards. I expect this will have no impact on standard, probably none on modern or even legacy but I can totally see this being huge in vintage rather like Paradoxical Outcome. The idea is to pop this down when you have a nice full hand. Then you unload that new hand and finish off by sacrificing this in some way and getting your starting hand back. It works well with Scroll Rack and Brainstorm so you can put the cheap burst in the new hand and the finishers in the old one. Induced Amnesia works well with fast mana and it is the cheapest way of drawing a lot of cards in magic without having to share that pleasure with your opponents or pay life. In many ways it is a huge Hatching Plans. In others it is like a personal backwards Memory Jar. In cube this would only be playable in a deck focused around sacrificing enchantments for which I have never encountered anything that would count as precedent. Some crazy Auratog deck!? There are not really any great payoffs for sacrificing enchantments beyond the few mentioned here. One day there will be and this thing will suddently look like a lot of cards for not very much mana. Narrow as all hell but super abuse power potential.

Tilonali's Summoner 4

Much as I like the synergy potential and options this card offers I think this is a bit too much phaff for infrequent payoff in cube. The floor is low as a 2 mana 1/1 and payoff is not assured if the card lives nor is it assured quickly. Without the city's blessing or other support this card is pretty much a nut low 1/1 firebreather. Even with the city's blessing there is a very real chance this is just a bad Secure the Wastes. There is a super high chance they block and kill your 1/1 Summoner so with just 1 activation you are paying X1R for your X 1/1s. With things like Goblin Bombardment, Purphorus or Outpost Siege then the little Summon starts to look rather more pokey! Even though I still don't expect you get to attack more than once with the Summoner but if setup well you should only need the one. This is certainly a dangerous card. Also being a cheap card does give it a much higher chance of being a good in cube but I am being cautious with my rating for it. While I think it will be very good in the token synergy decks I think it will be too poor in general to perform well in the drafting cube. Still interesting enough to be worth testing. It feels like a Pack Rat that doesn't require discard but can be stopped by blockers as well as removal. The ascend stops it being something you can make on curve on the play and just steal the game with it because you get under their answers for long enough.

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