Saturday 28 July 2018

Commander 2018 Preliminary Reviews Part IV

Heavenly Blademaster 1

Seems shocking in any scenario I can come up with other than the make lots of powerful equipment including a haste giver and one shot people. I just starting doing a bit on why you couldn't do combos with attacking creatures without redudancy when I looked it up and found several similar cards. Both much weaker but also cheaper. Could Boros have a combo deck in the making?! Probably it does but any 40 cards is a deck... It is probably somewhere in the passable to fine range. It is unlikely to be broken. I suspect now that I have thought of it I will have to try it out which means I will want to buy some terrible cards to weigh down the cube. The good part of this card is the all equip bit, buffing your other dorks isn't valuable and it isn't something you can abuse. The explanation for why is too long for how good this card is but the answer is essentially just play Glorius Anthems instead and then not this as well.

Turntimber Sower 7

Well now this is rather the interesting card. It has reasonable base power level. It has far reaching synergies and it has a home already waiting for it where it brings a lot to the table. Base stats are OK and the cost is convenient. Passively getting free 0/1 plants in a number of different and easy to achieve ways is pretty potent. In cube with all the looting, discard, sac lands and self mill I reckon this card is not far off a Rabblemaster in token output. It will often make more and do more with them due to not having to run them to their deaths. They likely stick around better than Nissa's due to them not needing to protect a planeswalker. Finally Sower has a sac outlet option. It provides value which is nice but it is pretty extreme to use needing three things to die. The value of three 0/1s is generally more than a land as is the value of having a pair of 0/1 plants to allow the option on a painless sac of one of your good creatures. Sac outlets are great for fizzling things and this is only an OK sac outlet in that setting. Having a  mana cost and needing it to be a mass sacrifice does rather inconvenience it all. It is best for firing off Blood Artist triggers for a win. That is indeed the archetype it would appear to be the most potent in as it is like Goblin Bombardment in that it does two of the main things the deck wants to do. For cube, at least for my current cube meta, this is going to be one of the standout cards from this set in draft. This has all the makings of a good cube card. OK stats for the mana, relatively low cost and loads of text! It has a decent passive and a useful activated ability chock full of potential synergies. This is the kind of card that leads to good games and I look forward to playing and building with it.

Estrid's Invocation 2

You need a lot of enchantments for this to be playable but when you hit that threshold you can do some fairly naughty things. Just repeatedly getting EtB triggers will be nice. Enchantments are odd, mostly they provide an effect and as such a lot of them do not stack up all that well. Even in an enchantment themed deck you would still need to be fairly careful with your inclusions if you want to make the most out of this. Hard to use well and all sorts of narrow but it still looks pretty dangerous to me.

Kestia, the Cultivator 3

Narrow but powerful. While you want synergy for this is it plenty potent without, it is more about the colours on top of niche synergies that make this so narrow. Deck space will be the real enemy of this card. It is a bit too all round for how demanding it is. The power is good but the aimlessness of the card works against it. It is a bit too value oriented and top end for the more aggressive decks and it is a bit too creature and combat focused to shine in the slower enchantment based decks. As such this is probably best off in a midrange deck with very mild supporting synergies, like a Courser of Kruphix and a Control Magic or something, perhaps one more thing, might be enough to tip this from being just good to being naughty.

Arixmethes, Slumbering Isle 2

Super cool design if nothing else! Mostly this is a Simic version of Sisay's Ring which is pretty poor. Simic have substantially better options for ramping than a four drop that taps for two. You might run it in a extreme top end ramp deck but only because it is a split effect card being ramp and some action. Hedron Archive and Cultivator's Caravan do not see much play at all and this is certainly narrower and likely less good so not off to a great start. The other aspect of this is that you get a big dork down the line. Five spells can be done in a couple of turns with ease if you have much in hand but if you are nearing top deck mode five spells is going to take so long you might never see the end. A vanilla 12/12 is also pretty useless. It dies to a lot of removal easily and bounce is not far off hard removal for it as well with that resetting the counters. Lack of any protection abilities or more importantly evasion ones really hurt the chances of Arixmethes. I like how you can leave it as a land until their EoT using an instant to awaken it, this pseudo flash makes it a little more dangerous. Due to how cool this is I will certainly play with it a bit but my expectation is to be very unimpressed with this. I think you could probably use this as an OK win condition in a control deck in concert with Berserk but that is not that space efficient or reliable for a control win condition, nor is it as dangerous and unannounced as a Splinter Twin combo. Mostly this is interesting, I don't think it is all that useful or good. It certainly doesn't feel worth speeding up with Thespian Stage and Hexmage.

Tuvasa, the Sunlit 2.5

Great dual purpose card for most enchantress decks in Bant. While not quite the same abuse of draw that can be had from your classic Verduran and Messa Enchantress cards one per turn is still pretty decent. It is as much as you tend to get from either of the others when playing with bigger enchantments like Starfield of Nyx and Sigil of the Empty Throne. Tuvasa also doubles up as a reasonable threat. Tuvasa should be acceptably sized at most stages of the game and from not that long into the midgame you can expect a decently under cost body to go with your strong upside. Very narrow but suitably potent.

Ever-Watching Threshold 0

In heads up this seems pretty bad. It is in the hands of your opponent, it requires you to be under pressure, and even if your opponent is entirely obliging they will not always be able to attack you. There are better ways of drawing cards.

Nylea's Colossus 2

Cool card but somewhat unplayable as a standalone. The trigger is hard to fire off past the initial cast and it is pretty hard to setup all that well. You really want a high powered evasive dork ready to go. Perhaps there is some sneaky Replenish combo with this for a Craterhoof like one shot kill. Probably but likely less good than existing Replenish combos. Mostly I see this as a card that needs a lot of support and the kinds of support it needs (dorks, things to up their power and evasive capacity, enchantments and the ability to have 7 mana) are not found in the same deck. A potent and interesting card but not one that feels like it is going to be abused easily.

Ravenous Slime 0

If Kalitas has taught me anything it is that exiling creatures that would die is really potent in cube. Sadly this is a 3 mana 1/1 until dorks start to die and that is just far too poor a starting point. This card would be better without the body as an enchantment or something. That is to say while the effect is a good one due to how poor the body is it is actually detrimental to the power of the card. The exile effect is certainly good on average but it affects decks pretty differently and would be more of a sideboard hedge card anyway. Kalitas is an acceptable floor when facing creature light decks and that makes him wildly more playable overall.

Isolated Watchtower 1

While this is pretty powerful it is going to be overly narrow to the point of having no general good places you can run it. You need the kind of deck that can perform on two or three mana pretty well  so as to ever have a chance of activating it. That is only really aggressive and combo decks already that can look to running this. You also need a high basic land count which is mono coloured decks for the most part. You can certainly run this in a two colour deck but then you are more about the scry than the getting of lands. This is OK as a late game source of scry but 3 mana just to scry is not a great deal. You might as well run Arch of Orazca and draw some gas at that point. It is just too late in the day before it comes online for most decks and too marginal of an effect. I don't see the low to the ground decks, the only ones where this isn't only a late game card, having a good enough mana base or the inclination to run a colourless land that offers no tempo gains.

Genesis Storm 3.5

You can easily build a deck where this is always putting something really good into play. Six mana to put Emrakul into play sounds like a good deal to me. You don't really need the storm aspect to empower this. One dork is fine, more is probably just overkill. The real cost of this card is in the build, you cannot run any low cost permanent cards and that is a little limiting, especially for green. I see Show and Tell Genesis Storm decks and Sneak Attack Genesis Storm decks being built in the future! Narrow but still pretty good. Well supported and of a high and known power level. Six is a little steep and will lend itself to a slightly more control leaning combo deck like you tend to see Splinter Twin built.

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