Thursday, 14 June 2018
M19 Preliminary Reviews Part III
Militia Bugler 3
I am not looking forward to the many ways this is going to be pronounced. As for the card, I love it but I do not hold out all that much hope for it. The card draw element of Bugler is restrictive on deck design in quite a brutal way. With 25% of your deck as targets you are still missing nearly a third of the time (31.6% of the time to be more precise). You are also not getting a choice on 86.7% of goes (don't hold me to that, I did the math myself and rather suck at probability). This is all to say that Bugler isn't just a long way off being an Impulse but to suggest it isn't even that close to draw a card. Not forgetting of course that if you want a nice beefy planeswalker, a land or a removal spell then your Bugler is unlikely to be of much assistance. Bugler finds low powered cards with questionable reliability and only if you go to some lengths to support him. Things like Accorder Paladin and Raise the Alarm all start to look a lot worse. The reason I spent so long on this is that white has many flicker effects but has few good EtB value triggers to abuse them with. I can see this being used in a few such decks where he slots in nicely but I fear this will not even be close to enough to merit inclusion in a drafting cube. This is probably only ever going to be the bad backup to Recruiter of the Guard. Aluren is likely one of the better homes for the Bugler.
Elvish Rejuvenator 6
So this is a new incarnation of Farhaven Elf or Wood Elves. While the latter can get non-basics and lets them come in untapped they cannot get utility lands. If Rejuvenator had a 100% hit rate I would prefer it to Wood Elves (or Farhaven ones) in almost every case. Combo elf decks benefit from the burst of Wood Elves and are the most likely place to still want them but the ability to find Cradle and perhaps things like Wolf Run feel like they offset that. Probably you just run both in the cube elf ball lists! So, what is the hit rate of Rejuvenator? Bottom end is around the 85% mark. Basically no cube decks run less than a third land so unless you go nuts pulling them out of your deck and drawing them you are looking at 85% to hit moving towards 97% as you progress towards half the deck as lands. These are pretty good rates. I certainly want the upper end of that range (above 90%) for Rejuvenator to feel like the better choice on just the consistency versus the value of any lands. In practice more is at play. For one thing, neither of the other elves are 100% hit rate in cube where you frequently drain all the basic lands or all the lands of one type from the deck. That is a pretty late game problem though and as such much less of an issue than the ability to miss on turns two or three. Beyond this there is one major and one minor perk Rejuvenator has over the other cards like it. The minor perk is that you can use one of the many ways of making creatures at instant speed to make a land with a relevant EtB effect at instant speed. Super corner case but I would love to blow someone out with a Turntimber Grove as found by my instant speed elf courtesy of Aether Vial, Collected Company, or Yeva, Nature's Herald. So that is probably never happening but that was the minor perk! The major one is that Rejuvenator gives you information. Knowing the bottom four cards of your deck is way more relevant than you might think, certainly a lot more in cube than constructed. Where four cards is 10% of your starting deck size and your list is singleton knowing which four are not turning up is useful and can often dictate which lines of play are best. This all adds up to a fine looking cube support card. While very close in power to the alternatives the extra choices and information it offers makes it a more interesting and skill intense card which in turn will make me more eager to run it.
Patient Rebuilding 0
Terrible. Very slow and costly mill and dodgy card draw to boot. It is a bit planeswalkery in that it slowly gets you value and ultimately is a win consdition. It might even be better if it triggered when it came into play as well.
Demon of Catastrophes 0
Asking for a two for one or failing that asking to sit dead in hand. Don't play this anywhere ideally. It isn't even a good sac outlet. I actually think Desecration Demon is better than this and Desecration Demon is comically weak in cube.
Desecrated Tomb 4
This is super potent in a deck built to abuse it but it takes a bit too much effort to achieve that for it to be any use in a drafting cube. Cards like Scavening Ooze and Deathrite Shaman easily empower it as do things like Bloodghast, Bloodsoaked Champion and Gravecrawler. One bat a turn (Bitterblossom speed) is enough to make this good and it can go a lot faster than that. You likely need to run this with self mill so as to find the things that recur from your bin and also fill it up with fuel for the exile effects. While potentially game winning power when built around it is still a bit slow and awkward and that stops it from being a bomb build around. This in turn means it is just a good card you get the option on when you otherwise happen to be running the various support tools it needs.
Nexus of Fate 6.5
If what I understand to be true about the buy a box promo then Wizards are on some fairly shameless sales boosting mission. Either they are desperate or they are gearing up to sell. This year is just loaded with examples that raise the eyebrow. The unbanning and subsequent reprinting of Jace TMS. The nostalgia trip with Dominaria. The release of infinite product, with Masters 25, battlebond, challenger decks, anthologies, the return of the core sets, and I am sure many more, all alongside the continued normal sets, expected reprint sets and commander stuff. It is rather too much. I am hungry for new magic but I am feeling the fatigue of too much stuff, it feels wildly unsustainable. Nexus of Fate really shouldn't be instant. Seven mana kept it pretty safe but instant went and broke that. While I do generally approve of cards that counter mill strategies I cannot say I like any of the rest of this card. It is too much of an all in one tedium machine. Much as I love to take infinite turns I feel like I should have to work a bit harder for it than this card makes me. Much as most players want to take infinite turns no one wants to be on the other side of that. The net enjoyment this card will bring is absolutely negative and that is another poor aspect of design. If you are going to push the power level of cards to push sales at least have the decency to make those cards a bit better for the game. There is a place for cards that are not fun to play against and that is below the power curve. This certainly feels cube worthy, it isn't too oppressive there but still. It feels somehow like Sphinx's Revelation although more like the constructed decks that used it and would chain them into each other. Rev was dodgy in cube because it was gold but mostly because there was a very small window between having enough mana for it to be game breaking and having too few cards left in your deck to bother casting it. Nexus of Fate solves both those problems. I imagine my game plan when using Nexus of Fate will be to get to seven, cast it at the end of their turn and then use my first turn deploy a planeswalker. Ideally I will also find my Nexus of Fate again to cast on my second turn at which point I expect almost everyone to scoop. Even just getting two turns in a row with full mana should be enough to swing most games assuming you have any gas in hand. If this was sorcery or just didn't reshuffle itself then I would probably have reviewed it in a line or two and given it very little consideration. As it stands the card is pretty terrifying. At least you can't use this with Gearhulk...
Infernal Judgement 3
This is a very powerful tool against a few archetypes and a few tedious cards. It is too narrow to run in a drafting cube but it is clearly one of the best sideboard cards you could hope for. Sadly it misses both Emrakul versions which are one of the more likely things it will encounter and wish it could kill. It will be interesting to see how this card affects modern. While it will appear in some of the more constructed style cube events that I do it will not be having any noticeable effect on the meta.
What a silly card indeed! Being so extreme yet so linear this card will find uses I am sure. When you are purely after stats for mana this is a very good deal. It makes me want to run Greater Good! It also has application in any sort of devotion capacity. Despite being very efficient on stats the card is awful on its own. Even if it were 4G to play I wouldn't be super hot on it. As I say a lot, past about 5 power makes very little difference without evasion in cube. This could be a 5/6 and it would get about as much done as it would as a 10/10! Most of that will be eating removal. Almost all the green five drops in my cube presently offer more capacity to close a game than Gigantosaurus while also offering more value and utility. While this big dino might well see some cube play it will be like Draco does - not for being a dork in the conventional sense. The real applications for this card are not face value ones.
Vivien Reid 6.5
I like the feel of this walker but I am not sold on her power. For +1 you get Seek the Wilds which is a fine card. That is more powerful than any blue planeswalker draw effect on a +1. It is arguably one of the best card draw abilities on a walker but it is a little limited on what it gets and does restrict your build a small amount. While super powerful as value generators go the quality of a walker is first defined by its capacity to protect itself and Vivien is a little less reliable in that regard. Her -3 is like a Crushing Canopy/Vines meld! Both of those cards are very close to cube worthy and the melded version absolutely would be. A big part of that is due to how poor green is at coping with fliers. Initially I thought Vivien was too unreliable at protecting herself but that was under the lense of the general planeswalker. In specifically green you are fairly unlikely to have a walker threatened on the ground in any meaningful way, even less so against 6 loyalty. Green walkers get countered, hit with spot removal or taken down by evasive dorks. Vivien protects herself well against burn with high loyalty, as well as is really possible against spot removal with a high quality value effect, and really well against fliers. She is also nice and safe to vehicles which are another common way of controlling walkers. Assuming you can clog the ground a bit Vivien feels nice and safe. She then offers reliable value, some reasonable control and great utility. Her ultimate is fairly game ending being much like a cross between the two good Elspeth ultimates. While Vivien doesn't make tokens to power up the ultimate she does at least find creatures to play. She can't win all by herself but in any deck that sensibly houses her she should facilitate a win if needed. Vivien is unlike the five mana Nissa and Garruk options in green and feels like a much improved five mana Vraska, Freyalise or even Acidic Slime. I think in place of those sorts of cards is where Vivien will find her best homes.