Saturday, 14 April 2018

Dominaria Initial Review (final) Part XIV

Thran Temporal Gateway 5

While in many ways this looks like a dodgy Elvish Piper I can actually see this being quite potent. This is pretty much the Goryo's Vengence of Sneak Attacks! While no where near as abrupt as Sneak Attack this slower and fairer offering does have things in its favour. Mostly that your stuff stays in play. Ideally you flop out a dork to block with or at the end of their turn thus giving them minimal time to react to whatever massive threat you put in. Most of the best game ender cards are legends and a lot of those that are not are conveniently artifacts. You can even now use this to flop out a Bolas and have that as your win condition. Thran Temporal Gateway puts the things you want to put into play into play! Eight mana is a lot to "cheat" in a thing but you can break it down meaning you never need more than four. It is all colourless so very easy to ramp into, and you get to do it every turn. One of the problems in cube with the cheat in fat stuff decks is that one dork is rarely enough to seal the deal, it usually takes two. The first to stabilize and the second to close as it were. I have lost plenty of games after getting out one fatty despite it putting me well ahead at the time. If they can hang on and somehow deal with it then you are a sitting duck without followup. Gateway not only puts out dorks in a nice safe and poised way but it lets you do it again the following turn for that game ending one two punch. I think any cube with a good amount of top end, which is basically any cube supporting Reanimate and other cheat in combos or just slower cubes, can run this to good effect. It is more God Pharaoh's Gift than other big cheat in cards but it is rather better for cube use.

Swarm of Spores 2

This is not a powerful token generation spell by any means. Green is presently the second least used colour (only ahead of blue) in the various token strategies but it does have many of the tools so it won't take much more for it to jump into the forefront. That said, white loves to go wide and Baral's Expertise hasn't been getting any love and so this is not looking too hopeful. While I still don't see this cutting it in a token based green deck it might due to cards like Sprout Swarm and Scatter the Seeds with their convoke. When a card is ramp as well as core support for your deck it starts to look more appealing. Kind of how Mental Note etc have become over powered support cards in delve decks. The other potential for this card is simply a tribal saproling deck which isn't looking like quite such a joke idea any more!

Fungal Plots 2

This is worse than it looks, you can only play it in saproling decks and in such decks you will not have many creatures. Those you do have you would probably rather recur than exile and so this has quite significantly reduced functionality. What this is is a very poor Skullclamp! While Clamp outdraws this 4 to 1 when fueled with 1/1 saprolings the Plots has no mana requirements, can be done at instant speed and gains life. Fungal Plots has a good amount of utility about it. This is probably good enough to make a tribal saproling deck, even just on the second ability. Nothing else is ever going to want this outside of tribal builds though.

Weight of Memory 0

This feels like the black combined Entomb Demonic thing we got at five mana but made up all blue! This is in fact far worse what with being a sorcery in blue and having weaker effects. Far too expensive for graveyard filler or for draw or for both. You want Mental Note for this kind of support card. Never this.

Kazarov, Singir Pureblood 0

Obviously unplayably bad in cube, comically worse than Olivia Voldaren. Is it this bad just to keep limited a safe space?

Traxos, Scourge of Kroog 4

This seems pretty nutty when you can play it in the right deck. I think my cube probably doesn't have quite enough artifact support for this presently but I could easily force it if I wanted to. Non-affinity artifacts using cards like Lodestone Golem have been strong cube archetypes in the past and this would fit into such decks a treat. I suspect most powered cubes as well as unpowered ones with some combo in them contain enough artifacts to support this thing. It might still be too narrow in where you want a big cheap 7/7 trample but it could reliably be made to attack each turn! So how good is a 7/7 trample for 4 mana? Without the trample it would be bad that is for sure. Even with it Traxos fails the Jace test and dies to a fair amount of removal. He is very powerful but in pure stats which is a hard power to milk in cube. I see this performing best in formats like legacy where you can take advantage of size more effectively. In cube this will be fine to good in the right place but it isn't an exciting card. It is narrow and it lacks any sort of option density or utility, Traxos is Mr Linear.

Yavimaya Shepherd 1.5

The power level is painfully low, lower than Swarm of Spores even and I though that was about as low as you can go and remain a cube playable. Despite the low power this is doing exactly what a tribal saproling deck wants to do and in a tribe highly restricted on playables that might well be enough.

Grow from the Ashes 0

Nice flexible ramp card offering some value and extra ramp. Having the lands come in untapped is nice but on such a slow card to begin with I don't see this ever quite being enough. Kodoma's Reach / Cultivate just feel like they will do what this does most of the time for 2 less mana and they are generally too slow for cube!

Run Amok 0

Nice and punchy for a way to force through damage but I am always just going to play a one mana trick over this with Brute Force, Rouse the Mob, Rush of Adrenaline, Crash Through, Titan's Strength all as strong alternatives.

Deathbloom Thallid 1

Possible a bit higher power than the Yavimaya Shepherd but the off colour nature of this makes it less appealing for the tribal builds.

Vodalian Arcanist 4

Presently I think all the blue decks that want ramp can get it better from artifacts. There is no real need to go and get it from a creature, especially if you are playing mass removal. That being said, a 1/3 blocker is pretty reasonable on turn 2 and so perhaps this can represent a bit like Wall of Roots. It looks a lot less impressive than Curious Homunculus but Arcanist is a way better defensive card. Two toughness more make Arcanist safer and substantially more useful when you make him which is most of the trouble with the Homunculus, so often it is just pinged out the way and causes too much tempo loss. Arcanist shouldn't be a tempo concession. Not only does he have control potential thanks to his healthy statline but he has some minor tribal application due to being two of the most relevant blue creature types. Certainly a card to test. While I think it is a little on the narrow side and a little on the low powered side to made an impact in draft cube I suspect this little card will crop up a bunch in more tailored cube builds.

Artificer's Assistant 2

Some decks just want cheap evasive dorks and in those decks this is quite reasonable. You don't need to have many things that trigger it at all for it to be interesting. It isn't Judge's Familiar good but it isin the power rung just below it. As with all 1/1 fliers for 1, this is only really worth playing if you have ways to buff its power, be that anthems or equipment. I guess a raid / ninjitsu themed deck might be enough but the point is more that this is a narrow card with plenty of alternatives. There will be plenty of times that Hynpotic Siren or something is preferable even when you want those 1/1 fliers. Fine though this is it is easily the sort of card to wind up not seeing any play.

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