Sunday 7 January 2018

Rivals of Ixalan Preliminary Review Part VII

Golden Demise 3

Another one of many direct, but minor, upgrades to Infest. Usually the scry option is just the best all rounder with the exile version with the highest ceiling, but this, while being rather niche, does have some potent applications that most other mass removal simply fails to offer. I don't see this getting much, if any love, simply due to the way Infest scales poorly into the late game. All it really does is clear out the chaff, all the little tokeny things and the odd small utility dorks. It doesn't really kill any threats. As such, by the time this is nice and one sided it is not so relevant on the game. Not unless you are both playing go wide decks! Infest effects are a bit like Cancel effects. There are loads and loads on offer, all of them are OK if you need but they are never great. The fact that there are so many does rather reduce the play they each get and it was very little to begin with. Despite the low rating I have given this I am going to test it in the cube, it is one of those cards that could be surprising. So sort of tempo control deck with Snapcaster, Lingering Souls, Baleful Strix, Deathrite and the like would really like something like this. Unless you are red dealing with lots of small chaffy dorks is really hard if you don't wish to kill all of your own!

Dire Fleet Neckbreaker 0.5

They really don't like printing payoff cards for pirates. While this has a powerful effect it is way to vulnerable and pricey. Compare this to Undead Warchief, a lord that isn't even all that.... Pirates are sufficiently weak that if you were to build a pirate themed deck you might well have to play this despite how poor it is compared to other lords.

Tomb Robber 1

This looks like it should do something useful but I cannot work out what that might be. Mostly this appears to be a three mana 1/1 with a somewhat random ability requiring a further mana cost. This is never tempo, it is never card advantage. It is just a weird discard outlet Trade Route on legs. Small, expensive legs. This has a bit too much text and things going on for me to want to rule it out but it does just seem bad from all angles.

Thunderherd Migration 0

I must have missed the memo informing that Rampant Growth was now too good?! Madness. Obviously this isn't touching cubes which is just as well because this is also very much a feels bad card. Member when ramp used to look like Llanowar Elf?

Siegehorn Ceratops 0

Grizzly Bear masquerading as something that could do something but wont. In practice no one else is enraging this and it isn't enough payoff to be worth doing it yourself. So yeah, a Bear.

Nezahal, Primal Tide 1

This is a fascinating card. It does a lot of different things. While most akin to a Pearl Lake Ancient it also has elements of Consecrated Spinx and Aetherling to it as well. This is very big, it provides ongoing value, it is very very hard to stop with any kind of removal or indeed countermagic. This does a lot of things you want a top end card to do but it doesn't do the one critical thing which is having the ability to close the game. This has no evasion and no combat utility, this loses to any token generating planeswalker or any deathtouch creature with power. For Nezahal to have much chance at closing out a game you have to force it through with things like mass removal. This doesn't provide enough defensive stopping or stabilizing power nor enough game ending potential which are what you want from a card like this and so giving it basically everything else doesn't feel like it counts for all that much. This does a bit too much a bit too well for me to rule it out entirely but like so many cards from this set, I am not really seeing this one ever making it. Seems like you are probably better off running Mystic Remora!

Trapjaw Tyrant 0.5

Not as dodgy as the vampire 1/1 for 4 but still rather in that camp. This isn't immediately impactful very often, it isn't reliable value or removal nor is it that dangerous of a threat. It is decently powerful but aimless and unreliable and not what you want from a cube five drop. You might play this in a dino deck with enrage enablers and other dino synergies but that is really pushing it.

Crafty Cutpurse 2

This is the Notion Thief of token generation. Sadly the days of the Marit Lage are behind us and this is rarely going to be better than stealing a pair of 1/1 fliers or a 3/3. Whirler Rogue is a decent card and if you also get to take away something from your opponent then you have quite a powerful play. The problem is that it is rather situational. Making tokens is probably comparably rare in cube to drawing bonus cards, they both happen but not with enough regularity to make these sorts of cards reliable. Perhaps if more powerful things like Beast Within and Swan Song are printed this will gain some more applications as you could trigger it yourself but that is so much phaff for such minor value. If it isn't worth Notion Thief plus cards like Words of Wisdom then small tokens are certainly not. Presently it seems like a sideboard card at best, and a janky narrow one at that.

Dire Fleet Poisoner 6

Well this seems to be one of the best pirate payoff cards they have printed and just to rub it in how pointless the tribe is they have made this one playable without any need of other pirates! Turns out a 2/2 for 1B with flash and deathtouch is probably plenty good enough. This card feels surprisingly like a Selesnya Charm, a good one at that. This will kill most attackers, it is a nice surprise EoT dork to threaten planeswalkers, it just has a good chance of doing useful things for a low cost and with a lot of versatility. The EtB ability never has to trigger and this will still be fine which is handy for it in cube, as it rarely will with so few other pirates. Also, mostly you will want to play this in your opponents turn and not your own.

Silverclad Ferocidons 0

More hugely over priced essentially vanilla fatties.

Path of Mettle // Metzali, Tower of Triumph 1.5

Cool card but this isn't doing much work in cube. The ability and flip condition are extremely narrow. You basically have to build around this except it is a card you want in your sideboard rather than main, or certainly in terms of the EtB effect on Path of Mettle. I don't think the land is exciting enough to be jumping through all the hoops to get to without getting some value out of the first side. Perhaps just as a kind of ramp spell but even then it seems like way too much effort and fortune are needed. Perhaps this is actually a control card and relies on things like Chandra Flamecallers +1 ability to trigger rather than just having a good count of creatures that help towards that end. I am sure there are plenty of other cheaper cards that will flip this on their own like Flamecaller. Even so, this feels low impact for the control builds and still far too much effort to be worth the flip.

Dire Fleet Daredevil 7

Certainly one of the best cards from the set but also not nearly as exciting as seems to be the community buzz. This is very much not a Snapcaster Mage. For a very quick guide as to how much better snapcaster mage is than this you should look at all the decks in a meta where Snappy is legal which have blue mana in them and then look at which percentage of those decks actually play the Mage. The point is that not every deck supports Snapcaster as it has too few or unsuitable targets for it. Well, Dire Fleet Daredevil is the same in that respect except you have to chose to play it or not before you have the information about how suitable the relevant deck for it is. This is a bit like a Clone, you rely on your opponent to power it up and so its power level is rather random. This feels very comparable to Abbot of Keral Keep and while the Daredevil is a bit more exciting and has a higher ceiling I think the Abbot is the more rounded card. It feels like Abbot has a higher average power as you can control it, you can manipulate your deck and build with it in mind. Abbot is often an emergency dig for land on turn three when you only have two and it is really quite welcome and helpful in those cases. Daredevil is great when you have access to Inquisition, Path, Bolt, Brainstorm and other such juice on turn three but you have pay for that potential by having an Elvish Archer in your list a lot of the time.

Deadeye Rig-Hauler 0

One of the weaker Man-O-War dorks to date. Another bad example of disappointing card design and over reactions to powerful cards like Reflector Mage.

Slaughter the Strong 2

I rather like the design on this. It is an interesting take on removal and can do some very powerful things for not all that much mana. Sadly I think it it is unlikely to perform all that well on average. You can very easily be beaten up by creatures with total power four or less. Early in the game this answers very little and that is a crux of the issue, early do nothings are weak. It is not until you are facing down 10 or more power that this starts to look potent and by then it will often be too late. The way you need to work this in order to get sufficient value from it is by playing it in combination with good defensive creatures with low power but either high toughness or high usefulness. Thing in the Ice and Wall of Omens spring to mind. That way you can force your opponents to over extend into it and maintain your board and much more value through casting it.

Release to the Wind 2

This is a very odd card indeed. It is like a bounce spell and a flicker effect. It has a lot of utility but I don't think any of it is good enough to be playing this card in its own right. I think you need combo like abuses for this to be good and I have no idea what they might look like using this if they even exist. So you can use this to gain another go on an EtB trigger or an on cast trigger. You can use it to get past a blocker without flash or fog an attacker, save something of your own from removal, reset planeswalker loyalty and so forth. It is a great way to get back things that have been stolen from you. Disruptively it seems worse than bounce but defensively and for personal utility it seems better. I think at two mana this might have been pretty good but at three it seems unlikely.

Arterial Flow 0

Mind Rot with some tribal perks for some greater black intensity. Mind Rot is a long way off good enough for the cube, Blightning isn't even getting a look in these days and Flow wouldn't even be as good as Blightning if it didn't need vampires in play. Damage can be redirected at planewalkers and that gives Blightning some potential to affect the board that this lacks.

Deadeye Brawler 0

Awful. Ohran Viper is hardly a great card and it is directly better than this on 3 accounts. It is not gold. It does not need the city's blessing to perform its primary role. It is a mana less!

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