Wednesday 25 July 2018

Commander 2018 Preliminary Reviews Part I

Coveted Jewel 3

This is a little silly of a card, I would prefer it if it were less extreme but I guess it is trying to give than Lotus and Ancestral feeling. Anyway, this is totally unplayable in a conventional sense. You can't just toss this in a midrange or control deck and have it consistently be good. Sometimes it will win you the game but it will do a whole load of losing it for you as well. I would advise against putting this in drafting cubes even if you do have the supporting archetypes for it. The only places you should really ever consider running this are artifact themed decks that have lots of manipulation, things like cheating cards into play and the ability to sacrifice them ideally at any point. Ironworks and Goblin Welder and Daretti and Tinker are all pretty hot on this card. Decks not built around those cards should move along. The reason I am a little wary of this is that in the right sort of deck it will be pretty oppressive. Gilded Lotus is a pretty good card and so slapping a Ancestral Recall on the back of it is really quite a plus. Mana and cards is what most decks want after all/ This does so efficiently and abusably.

Saheeli's Directive 3

This is Genesis Wave that is limited to artifacts but given improvise to offset that. Directive is certainly narrower as a result but that isn't really an issue. Genesis Wave is already a sufficiently narrow card for it not to be a commonly seen cube card in any sort of setting. So you need to build around Directive to play it but once a card is too narrow for the drafting cube that is almost a perk, especially when it is a powerful card. Directive is certainly what I would call powerful, I think it craps all over Genesis Wave for power. It seems pretty plausible firing it off turn three for X equals four or five. You can pretty easily hit the 50% artifact count in cube and will likely be comfortably over that when playing this. Getting 2 or 3 cards into play that quick is going to be amazing even if they are all 2 or less mana. You are still getting card advantage and it is very mana efficient. That is the low end average performance, late game with big X or just when you luck out and hit mostly artifacts including a pair of cards with CMC = X then it is going to be a vast swing. Improvise is a huge deal on this card, it scales perfectly with the kind of decks you want to play this in. It allows it to consistently scale up in power as the game goes on and it also lets you use it far earlier than you should. The improvise makes it more akin to Chord of Calling (all be it far narrower) and Whir of Invention with their earlier impact on the game. Whir of Invention is the most similar card overall and while it may be a more precise tool Saheeli's Directive is vastly more powerful! The way to build with it feels like you should be in the position where as X tends towards infinite (or indeed the size of your library) your win percentage should tend towards one hundred. Simply put, you should be able to immediately win from putting all the artifacts in your deck into play else your deck is probably not optimal.

Infinite Atlas 4

Too narrow for the drafting cube but a welcome breath of fresh air that offers reliable card draw to mono builds. White is the hungriest for this card and I fully expect to see this in the vast majority of constructed non-aggressive mono white decks going forwards. This is efficient enough that you might even find it in mono blue or black decks for one reason or another although that will be uncommon. I can totally see red and green packing this in their more controlling or slower builds fairly often too. Treasure Map gets a huge amount of play in my cube and Atlas feels like it edges past it on raw power. Obviously the flexibility and wider playability of Map still keep it the better cube card but it does help show how good Atlas is.

Varchild, Betrayer of Kjeldor 1

If there was anything to gain from Wizards powering up demand on reserve list cards I would be full of suspicion for this thing. It literally seems as if someone was given the mandate of designing a card that would make Varchild's War Raiders appealing! As to this cards viability however I think we can pretty much rule it out in cube. The combo with War Raiders is cute but super unreliable and quite a long way from broken. As a standalone card both are pretty weak and that is a problem. Varchild herself is a total liability. To get value you have to make her, connect with her and have her die. The bit between the last two stages also has to happen really quickly so that you don't just instantly concede to any sort of value sac outlet. Varchild is unplayable in the face of Goblin Bombardment or Carrion Feeder or Skullclamp or really way too many cards. The best use I can think of for this is by creature type manipulation and that isn't going to cut it in cube. Far too many hoops to jump through to get your mass Control Magic. Certainly an interesting and unique card but not one I can see any good present applications for.

Retrofitter Foundry 6

Yup, I love this immediately! I think it is probably good enough just to run in cubes but even if not this will have a place in loads of artifact based decks and perhaps some combo ones too. This offers a reasonably priced way to churn out dudes with some great scaling. It is a significant mana sink! If it was not for there already being Walking Ballista on offer as the premium infinite mana sink I would be even more hyped for this new tool. It is super convenient, offers nice utility and is reasonably mana efficient all things considered. I assume that you cannot use an Ornithopter and this to make a turn one 4/4 as the ability refers to the name of the card rather than the subtype? It would certainly make it more dangerous if you could but it wouldn't massively change the drafting cube prospects for this card, such synergies are more the preserve of constructed decks. Without some kind of synergies this may be a bit too aimless to be desirable or exciting in a draft setting. A bit like Pacification Array. The card was decent enough but it was just a little fair and a little filler feeling without having a clear home you always wanted it in. I guess new Karn does up the value of such things and may end up with an archetype of his own in cube.

Lord Windgrace 1

Sadly this would struggle even as a mono coloured walker. The only thing this does to protect itself is going to 7 loyalty which is a pretty mediocre form of defense on a five drop. I guess you could use the -3 to recur a Mishra's Factory as a blocker... not a wildly powerful or sustainable defense. The ultimate is decent but super far away and with the lack of defense, pretty unlikely to fire. The -3 is decent but it isn't threatening nor is it ramping in an exciting way. Mostly this is a five mana, three colour rummager! I think I'll play the new Sarkhan over that. Lord Windgrace draws cards with hellbent and does Magmatic Insight when you have lands for your rummage. Rummage will likely be the most common outcome of the +2 which is pretty sad. They will at least all be fairly close to each other. Basically I am not sure I would want this in a land themed Jund deck that wanted looting effects. This is just too slow and narrow for cube. I'll play it a couple of times but not to test it, it is a clear misfire for cube, I'll play it just for the experience. I played Contested War Zone the other day, that was an experience!

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