Monday, 12 March 2018

Dominaria Initial Review Part II

Karn, Scoin of Urza 6

Good design on this one. It is clearly good but generally unclear how good. I am pretty confident it is not broken but it still feels like it should be cube worthy. The immense playability of the card if nothing else should be a huge boost for it in cube. The big thing for Karn is the ability to go to six loyalty off the bat. That will make Karn pretty hard to handle without direct removal. Narset was a bit like this and she was the most ignored planeswalker. People would assess her threat level and their odds on winning after having wasted loads of damage on her and would just risk leaving her there. I am not sure Karn will enjoy that level of indifference. If nothing else his -2 will be able to win the game over a long enough time frame. Due to how Karn draws cards there will be some decks who don't want him. In part they wont want to concede information but mostly it will be the risk of exiling key cards. If your only real win condition is Aetherling say and your opponent exiles it on your first +1 and then promptly Dreadbores Karn then you are in a spot of bother!

I am not sure where I would actively want this Karn in a cube setting. He isn't an obvious fit into any archetype. He is far too low threat and very slow to be interesting in aggressive decks. Even artifact based ones that could fire off a couple of massive dorks with the -2 can probably just do better with four mana and probably prefer one of the iterations of Tezzeret. Mostly Karn is card advantage and only white is lacking in that department. Big white decks that might run this slow card will have other colours to offset white's lack of draw and dig. Perhaps the most appealing place for this Karn is a four colour Breya deck. Such things tend to run Signets and the like which help improve the -2 but mostly you can just reliably cast Karn on four mana while all the other premium four drop walkers the list might want require two coloured mana. Karn seems very fair over all.

The Antiquities War 0

Very slow and very expensive. This very much feels like if this was your route to victory you would just play dig cards and animate cards and not this slow combi-mashup.

Chainer's Torment 0

Yuk, this is slow and bad. Don't invest a card, four mana, three turns and half your life into making a token with no abilities. That wont go well.

Dauntless Bodyguard 7

Fantasic card. This is great design. Turn one this is your bog standard Elite Vanguard, baseline fair. Later on in the game when a 2/1 is carrying less weight this is also a nice minor protection tool. This is how you make a card like Mother of Runes cost one mana without being awful or over powered (as she turned out to be).

Blink of an Eye 3

Into the Roil was great at the time and remains very playable even if a little outclassed these days. The cube didn't need a backup for this very low key filler card but sure. Another fine fair card!

Fungal Infection 5

This might be better than it looks at first. Festering Goblin / Fourth Bridge Prowler and the many other iterations are not great cards but much of that is based on the ease of playing around them. It is like Seal of Force Spike would be significantly worse than Force Spike despite Seal of Fire generally being better than Shock. Fungal Infection can take out a pair of 2/1 attackers. It can take down a single X/2. I think this humble little card might rather outperform expectation even if it doesn't quite pack enough punch to hold a cube slot. It seems like it is a polar Disfigure.

Squee, the Immortal 5

This seems pretty solid. The new Nether Spirit some might say! While it lacks a toughness on the Spirit and requires re-casting Squee does have some perks of his own. You don't need to wait for Squee to come back and you can return him as many times as you have mana for. The main thing Squee has over anything else like this is that you can recur him from exile. He is arguably harder to deal with than True-Name Nemesis! Not that they are a good comparison, True Name is a lot more powerful as you don't have to recast it and it is entirely unblockable. New Squee has less support application than the old one as you need to invest mana into him for anything special to happen, you cannot just fuel Forbid with him for example. He is also not an aggro card, a 3 mana 2/1 is not applying very much pressure. I see this Squee as a midrange or control card. Either he is just a good chump to help control the board or he is part of a support package for cards like Skullclamp, Recurring Nightmare and Goblin Bombardment themed builds. I think red is becoming a colour than might want Squee, the Immortal in some builds as it is increasingly able to compete in a midrange or control form. Very cool card but perhaps too low powered and niche to get the play it needs to keep a cube slot.

Teshar, Ancestor's Apsotle 1

I want to rule this out and just call it awful but it already has infinite combos that work with it. While those combos involve too many working parts to be build arounds this card is just one that can be abused. Too narrow for a drafting cube and probably too expensive, vulnerable and lacking in appropriate redundancy to build around.

Tetsuko Umezawa, Fugitive 5

Presently this seems too narrow for the cube but that could well all change. In the right sort of deck this card is a total beating. Either Tetsuko gives you a surprise turn of unblockable in the late game and lets you alpha strike for the win or he comes down early and ensures you are racing with all the control over blocking. Most blue creatures in my cube are made unblockable by Tetsuko however most of them have some evasion already. While he may not fit in any existing builds he is sufficiently potent and unique that I can imagine building new decks specifically designed to abuse him. Even if Tetsuko isn't worthy of a cube slot now he will be worth keeping an eye on as cube evolves.

Lich's Mastery 0

Nice Mastery, it would be a shame if someone where to cast Crush of Tentacles. Or Upheaval, or Cyclonic Rift! Dromoka's Command is a beating too. This is far too much of a liability in cube. There is little reason to play this over Yawgmoth's Bargain. The can't loose clause may beat some combo plans but they should easily outpace your six mana answer...

Ghitu Lavamancer 7

This feels like one of the best cards in the set for cube. It has a couple of homes it slots into perfectly and should represent one of the better cards in said lists. As an actual one drop this is a weak play compared to other red tempo dorks. From turn two or three however this should be a pretty consistent Goblin Guide without drawback. Both aggressive red decks and Izzet tempo decks will love this dork. He is cheap and packs a good punch for the mana while being easy to turn on. You should play this as an upgrade on a two drop rather than a replacement for a one drop. As with Thraben Inspector, making this on turn one when you have nothing else useful to do is going to be a big improvement on doing nothing but it is not when you want to play him. Ghitu Lavamancer will help red decks curve out and it will help them be lower to the ground and more efficient. Despite the obvious similarities this is not a Goblin Guide and it will not perform in the same way. If you compare it as such it will look poor.

Curator's Ward 1

Pretty low powered and super narrow. The two cards isn't something you want to earn, it is just compensation for if the thing dies. This Ward is only really useful as a means of protection and I think at three mana I would much rather a Spellskite or counterspell or anything really.

Rat Colony 0

Relentless Rats gets an upgrade! Not that either of these cards are cube things. Perhaps one day tribal rats will be tried and on that day a one off Rat Colony is probably fine...

Kwende, Pride of Feremef 2

Not many 4 mana 2/2s are cube worthy. Those that are have an immediate effect on the game and this does do that. While this is a long way too narrow for a drafting cube you could well build around this and create a deck of predominantly first strike dorks and then in such a deck Kwende would be alike to Saskia the Unyielding. A sort of Overrun effect on legs and as such pretty strong but a long way off a bomb. You would need other reasons to build a first strike deck beyond just Kwende.

Precognition Field 3

This just seems good. People get all excited for Future Sight and this is far cheaper and easier to play. It even has a built in way to move blockages off the top of you library. Future Sight wasn't great with countermagic or lands while this is rather better with both. It feels too narrow for most applications in a drafting cube. Control decks and burn decks are the only ones with a high enough spell count to run it. Burn decks rarely want blue four mana enchantments in them and control decks struggle to find the time to play such things in safety. I expect planeswalkers to be preferable to this in those decks in draft. In a constructed storm deck or similar however Field seems super sweet! I imagine you can just go on infinite loops of casting things with this in many ways! Certainly powerful but quite hard to put to the task.

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