Sunday, 16 September 2018
Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part VII
Lazav, the Multifarious 3.5
As far as a Clone card goes this is one of the ones I like most although Volrath's Shapeshifter likely does the things Lazav is best at better and offers a wider range of potential abuses. At base Lazav is nearly an Omenspeaker which isn't useless. Just copying your dead dorks for their cost however isn't great, it is just an OK option to have, not something you are willing to be running Omenspeaker in your deck for more often than not. For Lazav to really shine you need to fill your deck with cards like Phyrexian Dreadnought and that makes him build around only I think. I will test this guy out as he is cheap and option dense but I expect him to be too variable and narrow for the drafting cube. I think if he could copy opponents dead stuff as well that he would actually be good enough so it is fairly close. Compared to most Clone style cards Lazav is one of the safest as he has a playable baseline body and is thus never dead.
Glowspore Shaman 2.5
When you want an aggressive version of Satyr Wayfinder I guess? I am not a huge fan of this, I am not overly fond of playing 3/1 dorks for two anymore. To me this is a setup card and at setting up this mills one less card than Wayfinder and generally leaves you one card worse off in hand. Glowspore is perhaps better at ensuring you have lands, next turn... but probably not on turn two when that is most relevant. It mostly comes down to have often you have a land in the bin against the change in odds of hitting a land in top three verses top four. I think even in an aggressive deck I would still tend to prefer Wayfinder but I can certainly see running both. Glowspore might not replace itself but it does add consistency and it might well let you cut a land. Between Stitcher's Apprentice and Borderlands Explorer there is already some reasonable competition for the slots that Glowspore might have a shot at filling. A potentially useful card but a little disappointing for a gold one. Now if this was a 2/3 I would be all over it!
Aurelia, Exemplar of Justice 6.5
Pound for pound this is a very impressive card. Stand alone it is a 4/5 flying trampling vigilance beater for four. That is great even if it is only a 2/5 flying blocker on defense. I have recently been running Mindwrack Demon in the cube and it has been performing well which bodes decently for Aurelia. Where she really starts to shine is with other dorks. Being able to hand out +2/+0, vigilance and/or trample and permanent +1/+1 counters she will get wildly out of hand. There is a huge amount of scaling and synergy potential with those effects.You can buff other mentor creatures so that they can mentor her and then later she can mentor them back again, you can perpetually grow your mentor dorks in a circle jerk of tutelage! Aurelia even impacts the game the turn you make it. It is part Sublime Archangel and part Siege Rhino feeling. This has the raw power to transcend the shackles of being a four mana gold beater in a narrow colour pairing. A very scary card indeed and a legitimate pull to the guild.
Ochran Assassin 0
Cute design but a 3 mana 1/1 with no immediate value or effect is more than a turn off. You need to buff this before it is anywhere near challenging spot removal or ways to force through other attackers for effectiveness.
Knight of Autumn 6
Lots of utility and options but with mild power levels. This is a mix of somewhere between Reclamation Sage, Jadelight Ranger and Lone Missionary. Mostly I am put off by the colours, you can get the sorts of things this offers all over the place in these colours. As a mono card or even in a different pairing it would be much more appealing, even if rather less well flavoured. Knight of Autumn is tricky to get value with, the only time it is a proper two for one is when it Disenchants something. The value there is more having the Disenchant effect rather than the bonus 2/1 at the end of it. Reclamation Sage has seen no play since the more appropriate cycling alternatives like Dissenter's Deliverance and Forsake the Worldly came on the scene. So this is a gold card that has three modes, none of which are great modes independently even when mono coloured. That being said, two of the modes do see a reasonable amount of sideboard play. Knight of Autumn lets you act a little like you have a preboard card in against a number of matchups. This is a pretty classic case of trying to value something ethereal. The parts are bad but the option on having them is great, all be it great in a different curreny. With no fixed exchange rate it is hard to tell if it is a good deal or not! The card seems playable in cube, if barely. I like options but I don't like low powered gold cards in uncommon colour pairings. I actually think this is going to depend on how good Selesnya is in the upcoming cube meta. If it is seeing a lot of play then this will probably last in cube while if not this is going to be one of the first on the chopping block.
Affectionate Indrik 0
Cute though this is there are more efficient 5 and 7 mana alternatives big green dorks with a fight EtB trigger are both simply more efficient and/or effective.
Venerated Loxodon 3
In terms of stats on the board this thing can outclass Verdurous Gearhulk by a mighty +1/+1. To do this it has to cost zero mana as well! That might sound great but I am not sure it is. If I have five dorks in play I don't want to Fog them all just to grow them all a bit and add a 6th to the board. That sounds like walking into the land of over extensions. This also lacks the ability to put those counters to use right away unless they happen to be on cards like Walking Balista. It lacks the ability to put them on itself. It lacks trample itself. Perhaps worst of all this is a vanilla 4/4 for five when you have no other dorks in play. I think that this is really only good when you can play multiple things in the turn with it for that huge tempo swing, say Spectral Procession into Loxodon. That would be a mental turn three play and would be well worth Fogging your one and two drops to make that happen. It all sounds very win more as well as on the situational side. I like the Loxodon and feel like there are some good uses for it but it is looking increasingly like they are not drafting cube uses.
Blood Operative 1
If there is a lot of playable surveil cards this has a chance but a slim one. Graveyard disruption is lovely but sorcery speed, not to mention single target and at 3 mana, and it gets little done. As such this is mostly a 3/1 lifelink with recursion and that is fine if it actually recurs. Sadly that seems super unlikely which makes this pretty unplayable. It isn't going to get any tribal love either.
Ledev Captain 0
Grey Ogre you say? This is obviously quite good in a stall where it can become big and act as a mana sink. Lots of cards do well in stalls though and a good number of them are better than Grey Ogres to begin with...
"Giant Soldier" 0
Giant Soldier, meet Inferno Titan, Inferno Titan, meet Giant Soldier.
"Conclave Centaur" 3
Well this is certainly very powerful. It is like a mini Wurmcoil Engine. It is also just a bit of a dork. You can ignore it for a bit, you can chump it easily, you can even just get involved in blocking it and take it down fairly easily. It doesn't provide value just from being there nor does it threaten to end the game and those are really what I expect from a card that is four or more mana these days. The cost is sufficiently brutal that you are only really playing this in a Selesnya deck with a near 50/50 mix of the colours and a great mana base while also forgoing the perks of colourless lands. I will try this out for sure. Certainly there is a lot more to pull people into the five colour pairings offered in this set and so I do expect more Selesnya to be run. This is impressively powerful but a little aimlessly so and in an awkward way. Phyrexian Obliterator is too narrow for the drafting cube and it is far scarier to face than this. That is the sort of level a gold four drop with no flexibility in the casting cost needs to be.
Cackling Drake 4
I like this the best of the cycle, it is value right away and also has a threatening and relevant body. The "and in exile" bit is outstanding as it doesn't preclude the use of cards like Treasure Cruise with it and that is exactly the sort of card you want to pair with this. Izzet tempo is a good archetype and this would be a solid top end inclusion for such things. Despite it's prominence in my cube I have never bothered to directly support it with gold cards as there is more than enough from the monochrome blue and red. Stormchaser Mage is a great card but I just don't need it and it reduces the quality of drafts a little compared to a non-gold alternative. If I am not running Stormchaser then I am not running this. Many of the best tempo builds don't even run things over two or three mana. Absolutely I will run this in some contructed decks but it seems detrimental to put this in cube even though it has a good home it would fit well into and despite its obvious high power and suitability.