Wednesday 4 April 2018

Dominaria Initial Review Part X

Time of Ice 1

This is barely playable in a cube setting and probably why I didn't bother reviewing this first time it was spoiled. Four mana sorcery speed with slow effects and no card advantage ever. This has some Dungeon Geists meets Paralax Wave about it but I can't see you ever wanting it over either.

Raff Capashen 2

While seemingly low power for a gold legendary, a 3/3 flying flash at 4 mana is pretty strong. Wydwen, the Biting Gale hasn't seen any love in the cube but it does tend to be the Azorius control decks that thrive off the flash dorks rather than the Dimir ones. While Raff has a narrow looking ability it is going to be powerful, you only really need to use it once in the kind of deck where a 3/3 flash flier is good to have it be a significant perk to the card. End of turn planeswalkers for bonus safety, surprise blocks from Brimaz and that sort of thing. Raff is very much a Teferi, Mage of Zhalifir alternative. While he is more interesting in what you can do with him I suspect Raff will see less play due to not also being a disruptive card. Even if Raff saw a little more play than Teferi it still wouldn't be at cube levels, Raff would need to really over perform as Taferi is a pretty meh starting mark.

Board the Weatherlight 5

A white take on Ancient Stirrings. While Board has a potentially bigger range than Stirrings it naturally has a far smaller range and it is twice the price. While there are a bunch of legendary lands there are not enough nor are they good enough to form the bulk of any mana base. Stirrings hits all lands and that is a big part of its strength. There are simply not enough targets on average for Board to be a good card in my drafting cube. I see Board more as a combo card used in many of the places you might use Enlightened Tutor, Time of Need and that sort of thing. Board likely fixes together a couple of unusual combos and smooths some quirky decks. The existence of the card makes things like Minamo, School at Water's Edge and other such lands more valuable. If you are playing Board you are going to try and fit in some free extra targets where possible. Board certainly has the most eclectic array of targets for any tutor or dig card. It finds some dorks, some lands and the odd enchantment as well as every artifact and every planeswalker. Absolutely it will see play both in cube and constructed and likely limited as well. It is pretty fair but nicely unique. It is also in white, a colour bereft of decent card quality.

Weatherlight  3

This feels bad. It compares terribly to Aethersphere Harvester in terms of tempo and board control being both a mana more and having worse effective stats (subtract crew value from power as a general rule of thumb to get vehicle stats, although this fails to account for abilities such as the gaining of flying for some of that power). As a source of value Weatherlight is pretty unreliable. While there are over 100 targets for this out of my 540ish cube size that fraction doesn't translate directly to decks.  Firstly there will be lands in decks of which very few will be legendary indeed. You can almost cut your target % in half just for that fact. Next up you simply have the fact that those cards that are hit are played at a lower rate than other cube cards on the whole. I expect you would find many an aggressive red deck to have literally no targets. Certainly there will be some decks with enough targets to consistently hit with Weatherlight but it is all about the average. I suspect that will be around 5 per deck in my cube which gives the Weatherlight about a 50% chance to hit. Certainly worse than a simple draw a card trigger and probably worse than a loot trigger! Weatherlight has build restrictions on it, it is unreliable in several ways, it isn't insanely powerful when it comes together well either. All it really does well is what other vehicles do better. That and being a huge flavour win in terms of being inline with the original. Oddly however, in the same kind of durdly all round way Siege Rhino turned out to be insane I can actually see Weatherlight somehow pulling off the same feat. The 4/5 statline is dangerously potent. It is hard to take out in combat and hard to take out with removal. Just steam rolling someones face with a 4/5 flier that is bigger than all their dorks and that they can't touch with sorcery speed creature kill and that draws you the occasional card might be just the ticket. While I was referring to Harvester and Smuggler's Copter earlier when saying I thought other vehicles likely do this things job better I now also realise that Heart of Kiran also probably outclassess this in this last "Siege Rhino" aspect. Only some testing will reveal if this bit of everything vehicle but better than none card is desirable in cube but I would be betting at no.

Tatyova, Bethnic Druid 2

The very best friend of a Fastbond! While drawing cards and gaining life as you play out lands sounds amazing in a green ramp deck I fear it might be a bit late in the day. Oracle of Mul Daya is a similar sort of card in that it is very pricey for its awful statline but a good source of ongoing value. The difference is that Oracle lets you do more immediately with extra land drops and extra scope on where those lands come from. Tatyova needs a land follow up to be even close to reasonable on the turn you make her and that means she is really more of a six drop. Although she should win any game in which she gets to sit around in play for any length of time that is an expectation I have of cheaper, less gold cards. Tatyova seems like a win more card but I like the potential for abuse and going off with her too much to not try her out in some build around lists. Horn of Greed redundancy sounds like winning to me.

Yawgmoth's Vile Offering 5

All sorts of situational with the legendary sorcery tag and the needing targets already in the bin however also all sorts of powerful. This rather resembles Fractured Identity and that is a pretty brutal card in cube. Killing a planeswalker and getting one yourself is a vast swing and unrecoverable in most cases. The best case for this is better than Fractured Identity as you get more choice on what you get and it isn't a token card and this is just in one colour. Worst case however is the unplayable mode which should be fairly often what with the prerequisites on casting it. That should at least make the needing things in the bin aspect rather negligible in terms of making the card less good. I can see this working out well in delirium decks. They have mill and loot to empower the recursion options but more critically they have Tasigur and a range of flipwalkers and other cheap and/or robust planeswalkers giving them some cheap or sticky activators for the legendary needs. I am super wary of the prerequisites on this but it is just too powerful not to at least try out. Black, and the supporting colours for decks you would play this in, have good dig, tutor and recursion effects to further complement the offering. Or you could just play Azorius and Fractured Identity and not have to fuss about for your massive swing play.

Shalai, Voice of Plenty 4

This looks deceptively good. After being quite excited by it at first I have rather come down off the card and expect it to be pretty limp for cube. Granting everything else hexproof sounds amazing and a 3/4 flier for 4 is no bad things either. The issue is combining those things. Giving everything else hexproof when you are a 3/4 flier is pretty pointless as odds on the 3/4 flier is going to be the target. Shalai fails to do the role of Spellskite or Mother of Runes because she is going to be the highest value target leaving the hexproof effect pretty blank. It will be a little annoying for black discard, player only burn and that sort of thing but it is mild disruption at best and pretty situational. The green ability Shalai has won't be relevant in a lot of games. Those it does come up in however it will be pretty significant and will allow Shalai to dominate them. You don't need to be able to use the ability for Shalai to be playable but it certainly helps to make her more powerful and dangerous when you have the green mana access. Sadly the hexproof giving ability makes Shalai a huge target to begin with so even when you are a green ramp deck your are rarely going to have a live Shalai to start pumping things with. Shalai fails the Jace test and that is really her main problem.

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