Friday 25 May 2018

Battlebond Preliminary Review Part II

Stolen Strategy 1

This almost feels like a better disruption tool than it is a card advantage engine. Certainly casting other people's cards is very powerful but it is not so powerful that you play this over Vance's Blasting Cannons or Outpost Siege, the latter of which lets you play lands in addition to the bonus utility both cards posses over Stolen Strategy as well as a mana off the cost. Gonti is great against aggro decks because he is some tempo with some value that finds a cheap card that will further recover the early tempo losses aggro decks should enact. Stolen Strategy isn't because finding cheap cards of your opponents isn't going to come close to offsetting the tempo loss of making a five mana do nothing in the first place! For that level of tempo loss you are better off drawing from your own deck. This feels simply too slow and random to perform in heads up games. As soon as you are hitting multiple libraries however the card starts to look a whole lot more impressive and should be quite nuts in EDH.

Krav, the Unredeemed 2
Regna, the Redeemer 1

Regna isn't very good, the body is poor for a six drop and the ability is hard to trigger without heavily building around her. If you do she gets more impressive but is still pretty fair. Building around something only to get to the power level of a stand alone Grave Titan doesn't seem like a winning direction to take. Regna is not so bad that you don't want a free one via a Krav nor so bad that drawing her rather than digging her up for free is not devastating when you do pack both. Krav, rather fortunately for Regna, is really quite interesting. He is an exceptional sac outlet, easily the most powerful of those that need mana to sac. You gain life, you draw cards and you power up on the board. It is cheap, instant speed and can do bulk sacrifices like a proper cult! The kinds of decks that want sac outlets in cube tend to want them on the cheaper side and so despite Krav's potency I don't suspect we will see him rocking it in cube. He is probably narrow enough and hard enough to fit in that if he does get some cube attention it will be without his partner.

Arena Rector 7

My my my. Academy Rector is pretty good and found in many a combo deck. Academy Rector is the white Tinker in that it both tutors for a card and then cheats it into play. The original Rector commonly finds things like Yawgmoth's Bargain, Aluren, Mind Over Matter, Dream Halls, Omniscience, Parallax Tide and Wave, Cadaverous Bloom, Decree of Silence and even Treachery. A lot of powerful cards but all quite narrow both in what they do in a situation and in what kind of deck might want them. Now, cards like Ugin and Nicol Bolas Planeswalker are not quite so narrow. Any deck that can play such a card wants it. Even if all you find is Elspeth, Sun's Champion it is still a very high powered card. These big walkers are not only utility power plays but they are also juat win conditions all by them selves. A lot of the enchantments need other things tailored to utilizing them to work. With Arena Rector you just get her in the bin from play and replace her with a powerhouse card from your deck and win, all very normal and easy to include. Basically I am taking a long winded way of saying that I think this is not only a bit more powerful than Academy Rector but also significantly more playable in a draft cube setting. Arena Rector isn't all roses, there are substantially less walkers than there are enchantments and the walkers, while individually high utility, as a card type pack a far lower range of things you can do than enchantments. A lot of the good enchantment targets would facilitate some instant win which the planeswalkers won't. It will be a big swing but it will allow the game to go on for some time. One other difference between the two Rectors is that Arena doesn't have to exile to go and fetch meaning it can be combined with Liliana, Death's Majesty for double dipping on walkers (assuming you have an appropriate sac outlet). I am thinking this will have some game play like Stoneforge Mystic and some like Ophiomancer which makes it sound pretty amazing. I think it will be less powerful than both of those cards but still pretty strong in draft cube and will be even more potent in constructed decks despite not scaling as well into the realms of combo as Academy Rector.

Jungle Wayfinder 1

This feels like a support card such as Borderland Explorer but support cards typically don't stray into the 3 CMC region. This is a bit fair for a cube three drop, the only time it starts to look good is when you are against people without enough basics in their lists and this miss the pull. I don't see the opportunity for that to be known and this to be a good option at the same time so probably a non starter for cube.

Virtus's Maneuver 1

Raise Dead plus Diabolic Edict for the same total cost. The optimist in me sees Kolaghan's Command, the pessimist sees a game loss. The issue with this card is that you need the edict to be good for it to be good in the early and midgame. Cards like Liliana of the Veil and Doomfall can lean on their other elements to shine while this is dangerously weak when the Edict is taking down some 1/1 token. Edict effects scale fairly poorly past the early game and so three mana is a big ask, on top of that you want the Raise Dead to get value and that is less likely the earlier you are in the game. One redeeming feature of this card is that super late game the extra cost on the Raise Dead is no matter, just getting back your best threat will be worth those 3 mana in a lot of cases. Even so I think this is too unlikely to do good work in the early and mid game where you most need it to and so I don't see it fitting into my drafting cube well at all.

Last One Standing 3

Tragically this is probably pretty good in cube as so many strategies are into swarming these days. A three mana wrath that leaves one thing behind sounds totally fine. Sounds way less painful than skipping my lands untapping! It is basically a dud against creature light decks and so it feels like a sideboard tool more than something you would run main and that, along with being gold, feels like it rules it out for most cube uses.

Bramble Sovereign 3

This is worse than it looks but it isn't terrible. It is in the realms of Thrun, Yeva or Chamellion Colossus levels of good at best. Mostly this is a four mana 4/4 which is asking to get blown out. There after you are getting some value and perhaps some tempo out of it too but it is limiting, you need dorks to cast and the mana left over to copy them. Just copying Llanowar Elves isn't all that, you need to be making better things for this to be worth it and that feels like it needs a few too many things to come together to be a good plan. Just run cards that are good on their own and don't risk huge blowouts to most removal when you are playing four mana cards. This is certainly rather powerful but a little aimless, a little bit polar on the risk and rather win more on top of all that. My main argument against this is that I cannot thing of a pair of three drops I would rather have two of than a single cube five drop. The way scaling works on such things means the five drop is just going to be more powerful so even when you do curve perfectly with Sovereign you are going to be slowing yourself down trading power and options for a bit of value. 

Out of Bounds 1

Assist is sadly near useless in heads up magic, perhaps it has some cheeky interactions where it will be to the opponent's advantage to help out paying for your spell. The only way to make it work for you is during part of a mind control turn and that is not only rare but marginal bonus value to the point of actual irrelevance. What interests me about this card is that it seems like one of the least blue intense ways of hard countering a spell without any preconditions, drawbacks or extra costs. Out of Bounds lets you counter anything with a single blue mana and that is a thing. With a Will Kenrith -2 and a Baral in play this is a one mana hard counter. Probably not going to be a thing but noteworthy.

Stadium Vendors 2

This has combo written all over it. Vendors has four things going for it over Coal Stoker, a card which at first glace seems superior. Vendors is a clean EtB effect and does not need casting to trigger making it more versatile. Vendors adds mana of any colour which facilitates a much wider range of combo followups. Vendors can give mana to opponents, which if you are playing with mana burn and you have a good read of their options means it can not only be part of the combo engine but also the win condition! Minor perks or comedy ones aside, the main reason of the four that this has legs over Coal Stoker is simply that it is a goblin and feels like it plays well with the various cost reduction cards, tutoring and synergies with Food Chain.

Spellseeker 7

Lovely. A fantastic way of following on from Imperial Recruiter and the white one. This is not oppressive being a limited range three mana tutor but it is still strong in a wide array of places. It is another tutor and they are in relatively small supply. If this finds part of your combo then there is a reasonable chance you will consider playing it. Cube combo is sufficiently slow that you might well play this over Mystical Tutor so as to not incur card disadvantage. You might be doing that just for the potential to abuse creature synergies. I can easily see this in a Reanimator deck with Recurring Nightmare and Cabal Therapy wanting extra cheap bodies. In all out speedy combo decks Mystical Tutor is almost certainly the better card and in a control deck Sea Gate Oracle has a good shot of being the better card too. Spellseeker is good because it is playable in both those decks and everything in between which cannot so easily be said for those other cards. This finds 2/3rds of the things you could find with a Mystical Tutor in my cube. Also, when you are tutoring for answers you typically need the cheapest one so as to be able to play it alongside the tutor or at least recover more tempo with extra plays the next turn. As such Spellseeker is a reasonable silver bullet finder. I feel like the card this will be closest to in cube is Snapcaster. Both typically cast on turn three, both 2 for ones with a great spell and a limp body! Snappy is obviously rather superior being bigger and cheaper but Snappy is one of the best cards of all time. Spellseeker is not so far behind that he isn't a nice rounded cube worthy card.

1 comment:

  1. Another can't read moment on Arena Rector, it does indeed self exile like Academy Rector and so has no cute interactions with reanimating walkers. Doesn't make it much worse at all at least.