Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part III

Wary Okapi 0

Response // Resurgence 3

Great design here, part of which makes this a very hard card to unpick. For a gold card it is very playable which is a big deal in cube. This is incredibly painless to splash and superficially seems exactly the sort of thing you want to splash. Essentially this is a modal card with two modes, a cheap and easy one to cast and an all round harder to cast mode. The former is generally quite useful and works well from behind while the latter is a massive game ending play. As far as modal cards go that is a pretty sweet sounding pairing of effects. The way in which you want to use the two halves of the card is however opposed. The cheaper mode is best in a control shell while the big mode is best in aggressive decks, or at least, creature heavy ones. This feels like more of a problem for the card. I am fairly confidant this sees far too little action to be a good drafting cube card. Much is down to the somewhat at odds functioning of the two halves, the rest is just because it is ultimately a Boros card. This isn't close to strong enough to play as a mono card and so you need the five mana gold mode for the card to reach its potential. This isn't the tool that the few viable Boros archetypes need, it isn't really a tool any deck needs. It needs to perform well in a archetype that is otherwise great to achieve cube worthyness and I can't see that happening. I will certainly try this out and likely even build with it in mind in a constructed even as I am intrigued to understand this design of card better. There is certainly potential here but it feels very hard to get at fully.

Find // Finality 3.5

A second Golgari card in this style, how we are getting spoiled! This is certainly very powerful. A two mana two for one is potent even without any tempo change. Indeed the two mana two for ones without tempo gains are some of the best! What lets Find down is needing a bin with two dorks in it, two relevant ones at that. This only happens somewhat later in the game which renders this whole card very late game with the second mode costing six. Finality is certainly a devastating play if you can pull it off however it is all sorts of conditional to get near optimal. They need nothing with more than four toughness, you need something with at least three. More over, you need to be alive and with six mana against the kinds of decks that you want mass removal against. I think Finality is situational enough that you can only really play this card as Find. If your deck doesn't want what Find does then don't play this. Every now and again Finality will help you but it isn't something you should be relying on. Find is still strong but it is a lot narrower than such an effect would be if you gave it any reasonably frequently useful alternate mode. In other words Finality is almost a trap, it makes Find look more playable than it is. Certainly this card is very powerful in the right setting but finding that won't be commonplace. Certainly easier than for Response // Resurgence but still not easy.

Niv-Mizzet, Parun 1

This guy is the enemy of colourless lands! Don't be playing both in the same deck... Probably just don't run this. I like the design, I do not like the cost or stat allocation. I just can't look at this and not see a bad Consecrated Sphinx. Even trying to combo him with Curiosity seems awful. Running this into a Chupacabra or Cast Out is going to feel awful. Making this and just having it ignored and not doing enough is going to be a real thing too. Most cards costing five or more in cube do more to stabilize a game that this. If you want stability and closing power play Inferno Titan style cards and if you want value play Sphinx cards. Is new Niv Powerful? Yes, very. Is he appropriate? Not at all.

Dream Eater 5.5

Venser, Shaper Savant got a big brother. And boy is it big. That extra two mana buys you an awful lot here. Flying, +2/+1 and surviel 4! This seems amazing, high power, high utility, high playability and all the good stuff. My concern is that it is more of a bridge card and not a top end card. When you pay six for something you want it to end the game rather than being a good all rounder. I suspect this will be better at ending the game that the body suggest but it won't do it simply, you will have to work the value out of Dream Eater. I feel like Dream Eater will kill a lot of planeswalkers and turn the tide in many a close game. It doesn't end a game by itself but it should do huge work in combination with other stuff. It feels more of a midrange card than a control one but blue midrange decks are pretty much what control is these days in cube. This card is impressively well placed power wise but it is hard to place performance wise. It could do as well as Torrential Gearhulk or it could be a dud. The meta is certainly moving towards wanting more cards like this but I don't know if this is still a bit too much. Six is so much to pay for a boomerang, or a 4/3 flier, or really anything. Are you happy to pay six for a bit of everything? It is a bit like getting a great deal on something in real life but having to buy it in significant bulk, it poses some awkward and different questions. It is worth noting that Dream Eater offers no inherent card advantage which might be an issue for its success.

Assasin's Trophy 8.5

Well this is the highest rating I have given a card in quite some time. Clearly this is just great. It is Path to Exile but for one more you get to kill anything. ANYTHING! Just an instant speed Dreadbore like this would have been exciting but slap on a Creeping Mold option why not! This is pretty much the ultimate problem solver. It might not handle some of the awkwardly durable cards like Council's Judgement does but those are not typically the most commonly problematic of cards in cube. Being instant and a mana less and dealing with utility lands trumps a lack of targetting and exile. Giving away a basic land and being gold does bring it closer to even but I am presently liking Trophy most as a coverall. (as an aside, I would say Cast Out is largely taking the place of Judgement in a lot of places these days).Trophy is likely not a card you want to overload on. Perhaps 4 Abrupt Decay will become 3 Decay and 2 Trophy in constructed lists. I certainly expect to see a lot less Maelstrom Pulse in constructed events! Trophy is removal you want to use last of your options and late in the game where possible, ideally on the turn you apply the killing blow. It is Pact of Negation levels of good on the last turn and wildly better on all those prior to the last turn! With this Golgari challenges Orzhov for the crown of removal king. The tempo plays this offers are really strong. This isn't overpowered, it isn't even that much above the curve. It is certainly less powerful than Path to Exile if such things were truely measureable. What Trophy does so well is being efficient, appropriate and incredibly playable. This will so rarely be a useless card and that is the real strength of Trophy. Very few decks are immune to what this does. Decks without basic lands should be terrified of what this does. A full suite of Trophy, Ghost Quarter and Field of Ruin would be utterly devastating to decks without basics, even those with just one or two might well fall to such things. Expect to see this everywhere. Standard through to the eternal formats and every thing in between. Casual formats too. This is the new Vindicate and it is absolutely an upgrade on the old classic.

Hypothesizzle 0

If words had taste this would be a pretty disgusting flavour. This is not a direction I would like to see card naming go in. As for the card, it isn't the worst. It is a bad Prophetic Bolt (which is hardly a big name itself) but it is a limited card so we can forgive it and accept it is not really for us cube folk.

Sumala Woodshaper 1

At three mana this would have been very interesting but at four it falls short. Four cards isn't that deep for digging into your deck. The 2/1 statline is pretty limp. Being gold is lame. This feels like a bad Militia Bugler and that card isn't exactly making big waves in cube.

Sunhome Stalwart 2

Realistically this is too fair for cube but back in the day this would have been a bomb. Even quite recently this would have at least been a good cube worthy sort of thing. In many ways Stalwart is better than Precinct Captain. In one specific and important way he is worse. You get no value attacking with Stalwart unless you also attack with a 0 or 1 power dork. Even if you have a significant power buff on Stalwart you need to attack with something else and that makes it situational. When you can attack with two things you are winning and as such Stalwart is a little too much of a win more. The card does work wonders with Walking Ballista and generally has a good ceiling and a good floor. The floor is higher than it is for White Knight kinds of cards. The card is close to palyable. Power averages for it are decent but it just isn't a thing you desperately want. It is just kind of generically fine. A situational Slith with a better starting position. You could run this in cubes, it would be fine but it isn't doing anything specific or anything all that well. I'll test it to make sure it is only fine.

Fresh-Faced Recruit 0

Whisper Agent 2

This has a lot going for it. It has a decent stat line for the cost. It is super playable being a hybrid card. It is super playable due to having flash. It offers utility and card quality with the surviel. All round this card looks good but it never looks great. Where do you want a card like this? What is it better than at three mana in the cube? Basically this just isn't doing enough to merit the filler level of card it is at three mana. I am always going to play a card with cycling or something that cantrips for less mana instead of this if I can. I like it and much like Stalwat, it would have been great some years ago. Now however this is not getting it done I fear.

Dimir Informant 0

No card advantage makes this weak. You play Sea Gate Oracle or Strategic Planning instead of this in all cases I can imagine you might think Dimir Informant was good.

Bounty Agent 6.5

This is pretty good but certainly not outstanding. It sits somewhere around the Remorseful Cleric level at best. A 2/2 for two with vigilance is well below par. It is going to be hard getting much value out of that on anything but a board without opposing creatures or at least with some buffs! An ability that needs to tap is a downer as well but the vigilance at least assists well in that department. Mostly is it just bad when you are a turn slow on killing Emrakul due to summoning sickness and that costs you the game. It really doesn't need to be Emrakul either, just any card dealt with a turn late is dodgy. This is quite bad as removal purely for that delay and the window it gives your opponents in which to counter answer your answer with their own removal. A 1W sorcery with the same removal conditions would be a more powerful removal card but it would be too narrow to see play. The generic 2/2 body mode lets you play the effect without being punished too hard for being so situational. This is like a good Kami of Ancient Law, not good because the way it works is better but because it has more abundant and more powerful targets for the removal in cube. This kills 15% of creatures in my cube, typically the good ones, as well as a couple of good artifacts and enchantments. When you can get this out first it will force inefficient lines or bad play and that will be decent value at low cost in the general case too. That is really how you want this card to work, that or have a lot of ways to give it haste!

March of the Multitudes 2

This is a bit like a Sphinx's Revelation! It is even more like a Secure the Wastes and is sadly quite a lot worse in cube. Gold being the main reason but getting two less dorks basic is huge too. It is so crippling to the card that you can only play this when you expect on average to have at least three dorks able to assist in convoking this out. In such a deck you start to care about the lifelink rather less as you have a mass of crap on the board. Certainly this will have places it is good but it isn't close to cube worthy and shouldn't show up often at all in constructed cube events. Powerful but often overkill and with few suitable homes.

Izoni, Thousand-Eyed 2

This is very much a card that is made unplayable by the few graveyard hosing effects in cube. Too much weighting is on the undergrowth ability and as such the card has a shocking floor. When you make this with four things in the bin it is great. When you make it with like six or more it is devastatingly good. It is not that far off playing Avenger of Zendikar and having a land drop to follow it on the same turn. Izoni is easily able to be on that 7+ mana power level of card but still, it is a gold card with high cost, high setup needs and one that is fairly easily countered. This has no place in cube with the likes of Ishkanah and Grave Titan kicking about but it could be used in some dedicated self mill recursion style decks. I can see this working great with Dread Return, Stitcher's Apprentice and Recurring Nightmare (although most things work well with the latter). As with the previous March of the Multitudes, Izoni is potentially very powerful but too narrow for general use. A shame as I would love to have a card with that activated ability that I could play generally in cube.

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