Sunday 27 May 2018

Battlebond Preliminary Review Part IV

Blaring Captain and Recruiter 0

Nope. Enough with the four mana 2/2s already.

Archon of Valor's Reach 4

Not my sort of card but certainly a potent one. You should be able to lock a lot of people out with good knowledge of their decks and the format. Turn off their mass removal with sorcery, shut off their combo with artifact, or just take out their big top end by choosing planeswalkers. Archon offers a good amount of control over the game regardless of what you are against. It has a nice skill component and it is a decent body for the cost. The high threat level of the body combined with the broad disruption should allow Archon to seal the deal in a lot of games. With all that being said, I'm not even going to bother testing this out I don't think. Generic gold top end is everywhere and it has to be pretty special to get a look in. I have tones of Sigardas, Dromokas and Ajanis that see basically no play. It is even worse being Selesnya what with it being a bland, narrow and uncommon colour pairing. Good though this is, I don't see much room for it.

Najeela, the Blade-Blossom 6

This is a pretty spicy little lady. Najeela sits somewhere between Brimaz and Goblin Rabblemaster in what she does. Power wise it is harder to say, as a stand alone she is less potent and sits somewhere below Hanwier Garrison. When supported by warriors Najeela jumps in power level and is rather better than the rest of those kinds of card. I am pretty much considering the WUBRG ability as a blank. It might come up now and again, either in a bad deck or just in some really lucky Mardu deck that is packing things like City of Brass, Terearion and that sort of thing. It is a tiny buff to the card but will probably just tempt people into bad deck design and actually be a drawback! Anyway, back to the relevant token production, size and cost of the card. Once you get the ball rolling with Najeela it gets out of hand very quickly indeed. Just imagine a goldfish with one drop and two drop warriors into this. You get a double trigger on the turn you make her and five triggers the following attack! Obviously this is about as good as you can do but seven dorks in two turns for 3 mana is pretty silly. It is not even all that hard to attack with warriors, that is what they like to do and there are plenty of decent ones on offer. Adding this to a cube will increase the value of all one and two drop aggressive attacking warriors, especially the red ones. Obviously cards like Zurgo are already good enough, it is more things like Gore-House Chainwalker that might improve enough to be worth reconsidering. While Najeela might have the best scaling of the three mana token makers she is narrower and higher risk than the others and that will detract from her a little and leaves her fairly borderline for my drafting cube. I just forsee too many occasions where she can't attack because they have a 2/4 or a first striker or really any sort of defense and yet she is your only warrior, that or just eating a Disfigure on sight and feeling like a waste of mana!

Zndrsplts Judgement 0

Bad Clone plus Unsummon is not an upgrade on any of the Clones out there really.

Bonus Round 4

Well this is yet another storm empowering power house. Cast this, cast Manamorphose, win? Feels like it is about that simple. All you really need to do is start to go off in a Bonus Round and you will be getting there without fizzling. I don't think there is much call for this outside of a combo deck. You can do some nice face damage with this but without Fireblast to back it up it isn't very powerful, Insult feels like it is just better for that kind of deck. Another thing I like most about Bonus Round is that you can now just storm off without any storm cards at all, just go mono red rituals and then Fireball them for 10 twice for the win! You can do it turn one without any power or ramp outside of rituals and in mono red and it isn't that much more demanding on cards than my umpowered mono red turn two kill with Insult and Swiftspear! I am going to have some fun with this!

Arcane Artisan 7

While this is quite slow it is potent enough to run in a generic midrange deck as well as a deck with massive things it is cheating out. This is a card that really needs to be killed, you just can't risk letting this activate if possible. It could be some kind of Grave Titan which is pretty devastating on turn four. It could just be a Man O War which is actually still fantastic when you get to make it with flash and draw a card as well. For a must kill card this is cheap and has reasonable toughness. I don't love this card, I think it is a little polar, but I cannot escape that it is quite good and dangerous. End of turn, put an Emrakul token into play... If nothing else you will just win with the card draw element of this card if your cost reduced flash tokens are not pulling you ahead enough. Just the threat of this putting something scary into play will hold off a lot of attacks. It offers some defense, it offers a lot of threat and it promises card advantage too.

Brightling 5

Nice design in that this card feels very white and has a good power level for this sort of tedious thing. It is a bit like True Name Nemesis but more interactive. With infinite mana the Brightling is likely better than True Name in most cases! Brightling has a significant control leaning with the key words it can gain as well as how mana intense it it. It is a bit Batterskull. It won't directly win many games but it will prevent your opponents ever winning and they won't be able to deal with it. Brightling is a little at odds with itself, it is fairly low impact yet very mana intense. Flop this out on turn three and you have a Trained Armodon. Wait until you can abuse it and you might as well make an Aetherling! The issue with Brightling is not that it is mana intense however, it is that you cannot easily win with it. No evasion and no ability to defeat bigger dorks in combat and live make it a poor threat. It is more of a defensive Aetherling and that isn't what the Dr ordered. You won't be super happy playing this in aggro as you won't have the mana to empower it until it is likely too late. To play this safely it is a four drop and it simply doesn't have the impact, threat or power level of a good cube four drop. While certainly a viable cube card I feel it is a bit aimless and undesirable for any of the defined archetypes.

Azra Oddsmaker 5

This is certainly powerful enough for cube although I suspect I will just end up cutting it shortly after adding it due to being a gold card. As Ophidian dorks go this is pretty strong. It lets you turn anything into an Ophidian and it is a Tormenting Voice rather than a simple draw one which is rather better in most cases. Those where it is not better are when you have no cards to pitch or worse still, when they kill your "Ophidian" after the discard but before combat damage. Other perks this has over other card draw dorks is a decent size, most are 1/3 and this is a 3/3. It also empowers existing dorks and lets you get a draw in right away. Overall I think Ruin Raider is probably safer and more playable but Oddsmaker is absolutely more powerful. For me I suspect this is a card that will be used for synergies, I will play it in warrior decks and in decks with a discard theme.

Thrilling Encore 1

Powerful effect but far too situational. Sure, it is super nice to counter a Wrath effect but it isn't super nice holding up five mana for the option. It seems super weak playing this with your own mass removal, it makes it like 8+ mana two card combo that is only as good as yours and your opponents board. You don't want to play Wraths and dorks in high frequencies so it comes down to what your opponent is upto. That leaves this as a defensive tool and in that light it is painfully overcost. Just play Heroic Intervention to counter Wrath effects, that feels like the right sort of price. Sure, you don't steal their stuff but that is super win more.

Decorated Champion 1

This sort of thing used to be the preserve of tribal decks. With all the power creep in dorks however this dork just looks like he reaches the bar rather than exceeding it even when you max out the synergies. Certainly this is playable in a green warrior build but it isn't any more than filler in such a place and it certainly has no homes outside of a warrior deck.

War's Toll 1

Interesting card and powerful effects but for the cost and disruptive potential this card is not there. It makes combat and casting stuff awkward but it doesn't stop anything. The mana disruption will harm control players wishing to lean on countermagic but loads of cards do this rather better and cheaper than four mana to boot! Much the same thing applies to the combat except that it hoses different sorts of decks. War's Toll is two lots of mild disruption that effect two different sort of decks. It isn't good enough hate to bring in against anything and it isn't rounded and powerful enough to run main. Cool card and strong flavour but not really all that close to good in a heads up format.

Azra Bladeseeker 1

Useful tool to have but not all that easy to theme with or indeed all that powerful. A 3/2 with an EtB loot is fine for three but wishes it was a 2 mana 2/1 instead! Most decks wanting discard outlets don't care much for a generic 3/2. I don't really see where I would want this over a Vaultbreaker given the option on either. Vaultbreaker simply packs more punch and affords more options.

Aurora Champion 1

Another card that is just about enough to be viable in a tribal build with maxed out synergies. It is basically just a conditional Territorial Hammerskull with swapped power and toughness. While making it more vulnerable it does also make it more aggressive which suits that sort of thing. I suspect I will have an array of more exciting tribal cards in the three slot than this however and doubt I will ever play it in a cube setting.

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