Saturday 26 May 2018

Battlebond Preliminary Review Part III

Inner Demon 0

While impressively powerful for the mana this is let down by being narrow and situational. You land this on your dude and kill some of theirs then it is a pretty huge swing. If you get your dude killed with this on the stack you just lost so hard and that is what makes this unplayable despite the high power. You probably lose if you want to cast this and don't have a dork as well...

Together Forever 3

Fascinating card and impressive design. Elements of this card seem incredibly powerful but it does have a couple of warning lights as well. Basically, without creatures in play this is horrible, ideally two. Then, without mana up this fails to do exciting stuff going forwards. It is situational and conditional but it is still quite appealing! The thing that really makes this interesting is not the ability to buff a couple of dorks and then get them back later, some suspended Raise Dead and a pair of +1/+1 counters is not wildly exciting. What is more exciting is that you can recur any dork with any sort of counter on it. That is any persist card such as Kitchen Finks perpetually, it even works with Walking Ballista and lets you deplete all the charges on it too. I can almost see an affinity midrange deck in white using this with Ravager and Arcbound Worker and just never having anything die! I think that although this is a very cool card it probably does need a build around to get there. You want a high concentration of dorks that you can naturally get back with it and that won't happen in drafts. Still, when all things align this is some immediate tempo and perhaps even some scaling and then it turns into an Evolutionary Leap sort of thing and is able to dominate the long game.

Silvia Brightspear 1
Khorvath Brightflame 0

Silvia is almost there by herself. A Grey Ogre with doublestike is a reasonable starting place and she can draw a card and buff that or other cards. Sadly to do that you need to be playing dragons and ideally a bad red one called Khorvath. The little bit extra that Silvia needed to make her good enough sadly made her too narrow. Khorvath isn't close to good enough as a standalone. He really needs doublestrike to cut it and rather wants to find and buff knights as well. They are clearly well designed cards as despite knowing they are not cube level of competitive I still want to build a Boros knight dragon deck with them in!

Gang Up 3

This is actually interesting just as a stand alone with the assist mechanic as a total blank. While this is poor midrange removal needing 3 mana to take down a 2/1 it is situationally very strong and scales better than most other one mana removal. Basically this is a card that can kill a turn one BoP or Hierarch on turn one and also can kill a Titan in the late game. While that is pretty cute there are precious few high value zero power things you want dead in cube and for the most part Gang Up will be needing more spent on it than the cost of the thing it is killing making it poor removal. Pretty much the same reason why Spell Blast is bad. I like that this is instant, has no target restriction and cause you no extra harm to play. This ticks a lot of boxes for removal, it is just unlikely to be a good tempo play. I think a few years ago this might have been interesting for its lack of target restriction but these days that is more easily found in black. This is therefore probably just too low power for cube even though I do quite like it. It is probably most akin to Tragic Slip, more reliable but also rather weaker.

Chackram Slinger and Retriever 0

Pretty filthy limited cards but far too far up the curve for what they do for cube.

Cheering Fanatic 7

Glorius! Really impressive design that is oh so red. Essentially this is a two mana ramp spell in red. You can flop this out and make a four drop on turn three much as you can with a card like Channeler Initiate or Rattleclaw Mystic (assuming they don't kill them!). What makes this so red is that you have to attack to get the perks and you have to concede information. It might not sounds huge but revealing my post combat cast intentions will inform blocking choices and is a drawback of sorts. That being said, you can also pull some next level bluffs and reduce the cost of cards you don't have so as to force inappropriate blocks. I think this is what I love so much about this card, despite the simplicity of it as well as the fair power level, it is still very playable and incredibly deep. I am almost certainly over rating this because I love it so much. For one, it is a terrible card to try and ramp out haste dorks with! It is Battlefield Scavenger levels of power but as a somewhat off colour pie effect it gains a lot of value. Much more than Scavenger. Other things that work well for Cheering Fanatic are that it is a goblin giving it tribal archetypes and synergies to explore. It also doesn't need to survive combat as far as I can tell which is rather important. If they can shut down your ramp with a mere two power blocker then that is pretty sad. I want to call this the red Lotus Cobra as it is a two mana ramp dork that can ramp and attack at the same time. That would be sadly quite unfair on the Cobra which is rather more potent, even if red is more keen to attack!

Ley and Lore Weavers 0

Wow, Lore Weaver is literally worse than Grey Ogre... Even if you find a Ley Weaver I am not sure that is enough to make it all that much better than a 3 mana 2/2! Argothian Elder isn't a terrible card but is isn't one that has seen any cube love nor do I expect it to. Being paired with a truely shocking card isn't the boost it needed to make a cube entry!

Okaun, Eye of Chaos 0
Znftpbt, Eye of Wisdom 0

Comedy cards and quite well designed even if they do seem like they should have been in Unstable. Eye of Wisdom is far too small and pricey to be any sort of serious card advantage tool. Okaun can get very big but without any evasion and with low base stands and high cost, is just not a good threat in any setting. Fun, potentially huge, but not good.

Fumble 6

This is very powerful but it is also rather situational. In my current drafting cube this has like 4 things it can steal total. Mostly that makes it a weak Unsummon. It is probably quite playable as despite low baseline power it is still fine and the upside, even if rare, is very swingy. I don't much like the card as it is so polar but it is playable and it may well wind up in some sideboards even if I never add it to the drafting cube. I don't think it would make for a better experience of the game if I were to add it to the drafting cube.

Khorvath's Fury 0

Wheel of Fortune plus Stormseeker for a couple of mana discount on the total. Seems like a fairly odd pairing of effects. Both are situational and both are pretty narrow. Worse still there doesn't seem to be much in the way of overlap between them. I really don't see where you would want a card like this. It does powerful things but at a fairly high cost and in a sort of haphazard way that likely isn't a great help to whatever it is you are trying to do.

Grothma, All-Devouring 1

I feel like I am understanding this card wrong in some way. I don't thank that matters however, most interpretations of this cards function lead me to believe it is poor. Past about five power without evasion is pretty irrelevant. Grothma is big but he is asking for trouble in every way. You need more than just big to get it done in cube. Grothma eats spot removal all day and is a huge tempo loss when he does, being a high cost card with no bonus value when played. Grothma gets traded with in combat and they probably just drew a new handfull of cards turning a 3 for 1 trade on the board into and 8 for 3 in cards! Even when neither of these things happen they will just chump it and carry on with their business relatively unhindered. Perhaps there is some trick with Grothma to draw loads of cards yourself but it sounds convoluted and bad.

Sentinel Tower 4

I don't normally like cards like this but this one does seem rather good. It seems like it could work as a storm win condition or even some extra reach in a spell heavy aggressive deck (tempo or burn). Being a four drop do nothing I suspect the latter is least likely but there is still some potential there. There are seveal things this has over say a Tendrils in a storm deck. Not only is it just 7 "storm" count to get the fatality, it costs only colourless mana and can be made preemptively. Indeed, you can just flop this out and idle casting a setup cards like Ponder each turn. A free 1,3 or 6 damage a turn divided up fairly easily is a huge amount of control over the board or it can just go face and allow for a win without ever having to go off. There are certainly some things Tendrils has over Tower but all in all I would say that currently Tower is looking like a top tier storm finisher if nothing else. I suspect it will commonly be one of the two finishers typically included in cube storm decks. So pretty much a lock in for a top tier combo deck as well as having some potential outside of that archetype sounds like an interesting and strong card to me. Perhaps I just like it because it lets me just cycle through my deck with cheap blue cantrips and actually achieve something while doing it! No more leaning on Lab Maniac for me!!!

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