Wednesday 23 May 2018

Battlebond Preliminary Review Part I

Sea of Clouds etc (Bond lands?)

In my cynical old age these mostly seem like a mechanism to sell this product. These are premium lands for two headed giant, commander and any other multiplayer format and they are Coastal Towers in heads up play. They are some of the best lands for the multiplayer formats and some of the weakest when not. Certainly these have no cube applications for me, I do not intend to tarnish the best Magic format by going multiplayer at any point! I am not sure about the direction they are taking Rakdos in either from a flavour perspective. Rakdos does not scream luxury to me but whatever. Much as I might seem to complain this is probably a good thing for me, I like these sets a lot as they have way more exotic and pushed cards that will impact cube. Having really strong lands that all multiplayer people will want should increase the pack opening and reduce the value on the cards I actually want!

Pir, Imaginative Rascal 1
Toothy, Imaginary Friend 0

Both of these cards are just far too limp in stats to merit their up front cost. Pir might offer some redundancy in themed decks but I highly doubt it, you can get 2 mana 2/3s that do more so Pir is pretty lame. The only reason I can see Toothy getting play in cube is because you can tutor it up for free with Pir. Even bad cards are worth having if you can get them into your hand for free. I think the cost of actually drawing Toothy makes it too poor to run even with Pir but still.

Rushblade Commander 3

Warriors already had a bit of theme support and Battlebond looks to be adding to that rather a lot. Rushblade will be a lock in for any tribal warrior deck and might even sneak into the odd deck that just happens to have a high count of warriors.

Rowan Kenrith 0

First off, the partner aspect is pretty tame in cube, no deck wants a pair of 6 mana planeswalkers. That assumes you have access to both in the first place. Not that that should matter as Rowan seems pretty awful. The +2 is narrow and gains no value or tempo. In other words, awful. The -2 is also narrow and leaves Rowan highly vulnerable. It will miss a bunch of their dorks based on size and a bunch more based on being untapped. The emblem is cute but taking a few turns with your do nothing six drop to get a "cute" effect is not how games are won.

Will Kenrith 6

Will is a lot better than his sister, or wife, or whatever relationship they have. Being able to Sorceress Queen a pair of dorks for a turn cycle is pretty impressive protection for Will and even doubles up as a way of comboing off past things like Aethersworn Canonist or attacking past defenses. Handling two threats and going to 6 loyalty makes Will very hard to take down in combat. Will commands direct removal to take out cleanly of which there is not too much on offer. The -2 is fairly extreme as well. A pair of cards is nice and is likely better than the -2 on Architect of Thought as you neither have to reveal what you get nor just get one card a bunch of the time. I typically see Will coming down and going +2 to survive the turn followed by a -2 which should provide a huge swing. Often the cost reduction will be irrelevant as by the time you have untapped with a six drop in play your hand will be near empty and you obviously have a load of mana. That being said, if you do have much to do then it is also fairly nuts. It lasts till your next turn so it can be applied to countermagic, you can very easily flop out a five mana Karn and still have mana up for a Dismiss! The ability is tempting to try out in storm. Will has another cute ultimate but I don't see it getting used very much at all, it doesn't win the game and it is a lot less exciting than drawing cards and reducing mana costs. This is fine, Will seems plenty strong with just the plus and minus two abilities. While Will does seem very potent I am not sure how much love he would get in cube being so far up the curve. Blue is not a fan of tapping out in their turns.

Amazing Comeback 1

Quite powerful but I feel like this needs to be specifically abused in a tailor made deck rather than generically being viable. I am thinking Demonic Pact, Glorious End or Final Fortune sort of thing. If you just play this and wait to die it will be a dead card roughly half the time and that is far too much for any card to be dead. That makes it not a drafting cube card. Putting yourself to one is also savagely risky in cube and so I don't even see this being good in the decks built to use it.

Gorm the Great 0
Virtus the Veiled 0

Virtus is savagely poor. Easy to kill an in cube pretty easy to block as well, even with Gorm! Virtus feels like a better blocker than attacker! Gorm on the other hand is actually fine. He is relatively meaty and has some annoying abilities that combine to help race pretty well. Gorm is still too low impact to really merit cube inclusion and the partner with Virtus doesn't help with that. The free card is nice but again, not worth the risk of drawing it!

Mindblade Render 7.5

This seems exceptional. It would be cube worthy if it was only able to trigger from dealing combat damage itself. The fact that you can go turn one Bloodsoaked Champion (Tormented Hero and Vampire Lacerator also both just got a load better!) and follow it with this and start the drawing right away pushes it into the infrequently trod realms of the very good. The standard for card draw dorks has been a 3 CMC 1/3 for a long while. I am more than happy to trade a key word for a cost reduction. I am even happier to pay a life for cards drawn to allow Render to trigger on my other warriors even if they be few in number. Mindblade Render feels like the best Ophidian printed thus far. It isn't the power level of Dark Confidant but it probably has all the other lesser versions beat (Pain Seer etc) and I have all four of them in cube! Render can be better than Confidant as well when you get those tribal synergies going. Further to that Render is wildly more playable than Confidant which typically needs a proactive shell to house well. Render can just go in any old deck and should work out pretty well. It blocks a 2/1 like a charm and represents a must stop threat for 2 mana to a control build.

Archfiend of Despair 0

I don't really see this being played in any capacity but it is better than it looks. At first glance I ruled this out for having no immediate impact but that isn't entirely accurate. If you swing in then flop this out you essentially double the damage your stuff does and this will turn a lot of unsuspecting attacks into alpha strikes. If you could just have this as a curve topper in a sort of midrange tempo deck then that would be fantastic. As an 8 drop there is no real archetype that attacks in which you could realistically play this.

Soulblade Partners 0

Total limited cards.

Impetuous Protege 0
Proud Mentor 0

More limited cards.

Generous Sponsor 5

Intriguing card and no mistake. On an empty board this does nothing and that is probably what kills this card's chances even though boards are rarely empty in my cube these days. This is also a card which can change in power level quite significantly based on the exact translations. If you can combo with with -1/-1 counter removal (or indeed the spicy Contagion/Bounty of the Hunt), wither, or Tetzimoc then this is comfortably powerful enough to consider in a synergy deck. I will absolutely be trying to run this in something or other! In a more general case where you are only getting the trigger from the support of the Sponser itself then the card is still plenty powerful enough but only if you assume a wide range of things on both sides of the board to put counters on. Generous Sponser is fine as a Rishkar being 3/6 of stats for 3 mana, 2/2 of which is able to have haste and scale with other cards key words. Equally Generous Sponser is fine to buff dorks of your opponents and draw you two cards. You are still up a single stat with your 1/4 against their +2/+2 and so on average you have Divination in green with upside and utility. Often the counters you give will not improve the target in a relevant way, Sponsor can likely block any small dork you buff and big ones you likely have another plan for. It is only the middling dorks and evasive ones that are going to be a real problem buffing. I think Sponsor would be top tier if you always had the options on how to work it but I think in practice it will be far to awkward getting it to do what you want without issue. Too often there will not be at least two creatures on both sides of the board for Sponsor to fully shine.

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