Thursday 20 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part XI

Charnel Troll 0.5

It's a trap! Certainly this is big and mean but it needs a lot of support. There are bigger and meaner beaters that needs support to work and most of those play well with others. Corpse Troll needs support and then eats that support so that it can't support others. Corpse Troll is very all in. It is also powerful but you have to be incredibly careful about what build you are putting him in. Very few, if any lists at all, will be suitable for Corpse Troll and some of those that might appear to be good homes will actually be the worst. Imagine investing five mana and two cards into this so as to have it attack as a 6/6 on turn three or four only to eat a removal spell. Go for the Throat becomes a Time Stretch.

Citywide Bust 0.5

The other Retribution of the Meek. Citywide Bust is likely the better aggressive tool as aggressive decks fear toughness more than power and play power over toughness themselves. That being said, what aggressive deck is going to play 3 mana sorcery speed situational removal? This will frequently not do what you need, far more often than you will get a two for one or better with it. So, even though this is probably more suitable than Retribution it will see as much play, which is none. If I am really going to put Wrath effects in my aggressive decks I am likely going to try and make Dusk // Dawn work as it offers so much more. I have only talked about aggressive lists because no sane person is playing these partial Wrath effect cards in a white control deck when you have actual Wraths at four and things like Wingshards at three. Especially ones that only hit bigger dorks. A partial Wrath for a control deck would hit small stuff if it was good, like Pyroclasm.

Risk Factor 4

I like this a lot! I have always liked Browbeat and this is better. Now in this case like and good are very different things. Very few punisher cards are good and Browbeat wasn't really one of those. It was played but infrequently if I recall. Basically although both 5 damage and 3 cards were amazing returns on your 3 mana it was always a bit of a Meditate. Obviously you didn't skip your next turn but as a burn deck spending a turn to draw 3 instead of doing damage was akin to skipping your turn. Things were often a straight race with far less interaction and so by not doing damage with 3 mana and a card you were giving your opponent the chance to win. Browbeat efficiently did what you didn't want it to in an unhelpful way! Now games are more interactive, you have more stalls, more outs and there is just a lot more going on. I can imagine Browbeat being better than it once was. Risk Factor being better than Browbeat has a real chance at being playable in the current state of play. 4 damage at 3 mana is still an OK return, it is very efficient on cards and not the worst in mana efficiency. Instant is a big deal and jump-start is huge. If you are on 8 life and I have this in my hand it is going to be bad for you! I am getting 3 new cards, perhaps 6. It is just so much that is forces the issue. Discarding this to a Faithless Looting or Tormenting Voice early will be really great as well. That option to convert a dud into 3 new cards or 4 damage at any time will be great. Kind of like having both a Firebolt and a Faithless Looting in the bin and although your opponent gets to pick which one they play the significantly greater power offsets that rather. It means in a lot of cases you will know what you are going to get. The worst thing I have to say about this card is that it is linear, you only play it in face red decks and it only really offers you one way to threaten. When you need a creature or planeswalker to eat the burn you will regret playing Risk Factor. I think it will be this narrowness of purpose combined with relatively high cost compared to the good cards with the same purpose that sees this not performing in cube. This is no Lava Spike! Too powerful not to test but I am not expecting great things. You cannot play this in midrange decks, you always have to have that face damage be relevant and uncomfortable. Much as this looks good I think that unless you are using the discard outlet potential from the Jump-Start on Risk Factor that any list containing it will be able to made more consistent and streamlined without it in them.

Light of the Legion 0

Rubbish. It might have quite a lot of power but it is all in places that don't work well on the card, be that for cost or theme reasons.

Beamsplitter Mage 1

Far too narrow for most drafting cubes but some potential in a finely crafted Kiln-Fiend style deck. If you have enough things that buff dorks then this starts to look like good value. Things like Shadow Rift and Slip Through Space are my personal favourites but Titan's Strength and the like should also pack a big punch. Become Immense could be game ending. Needing this and another dorks and good creature buffs makes it all feel a big magic cloud land and a bit win more but there is too much potential for me to disregard the Mage.

Mnemonic Betrayal 1

This is basically Yawmoth's Will for their yard rather than yours. Is that somehow better? No, not at all. Gonti using your opponents cards is better because he allows for the card to be played later. When Will is good it is because you are packing loads of cards open to abuse like Dark Ritual, Black Lotus, perhaps just Petals, whatever it is you have tailored your deck around having Will be nuts. If you just throw Will into a midrange deck you quickly see how bad it is compared to Eternal Witness. You rarely get a two for one with it and you rarely get value what with anything you do having to come after the three mana for nothing in playing the Will. So, Betrayal is just going to be Will when used badly. It is going to get you one very overpriced card most of the time and really blow. Sometimes it will get you a couple of overpriced cards. If you can somehow make a Dimir deck that gets well into double figures of mana then this would be a good addition but with normals levels of mana this will be painfully weak.

Electrostatic Field 4

This is just a bad Thermo-Alchemist. You gain a toughness but you lose damage output. After summoning sickness subsides Alchemist is doing one per turn regardless which Field fails to do. If you do nothing so does your Field. While this is probably too low powered for the drafting cube it is probably still potent enough to be worth running in any deck built to abuse the cards with triggers like these. They have proven to be some of the best red and Izzet aggressive strategies. So much so that this might well actually last in cube, key support cards for strong archetypes can get away with being well below the curve. This might be a weak card, power level wise it shouldn't make the cube but it might well do so due to the meta and if it does it likely has a more pronounced effect on the meta than most other cards manage.

Tajic, Legion's Edge 6.5

Power wise this guy is pretty far pushed. Three different positive things on a card is usually when that card has too much to ignore for cube and this fellow has four things! A 3/2 haste is nearly playable. First strike potential on a high power creature is a win. Mentor on a high powered haste dork means Tajic is more often than not providing four power extra on an attack right away. That is huge. Tajic is an outstanding mentor dork. His damage protection ability is the hardest to gauge of the four but given that Tajic is already pretty tasty before we even get to that I am not overly worried. I think Boros will have a much greater pull to it with new Aurelia and other sauce from the set and that will afford Tajic enough opportunity to see play which is all he needs to perform. Tajic is very much a card where power is not the issue! So anyway, how good do I think the damage protection is? Fairly low impact but not irrelevant I would say. It means Tajic is just the first thing to die to damage based removal which is probably what would happen anyway. If you can Shock an aggressive three drop to death you feel great about it. the ability will be utterly filthy in combination with Mother of Runes against some decks. Unfairly so. It is not just red burn Tajic protects from, there is damage all over the place in small amounts. Plenty on artifacts, some on planeswalkers, some on fight effects, some getting redirected. Most colours do have the ability to deal damage to creatures. It is a significantly worse version of what Shalia, Voice of Plenty does, which is usually just a bit of inconvenience but sometimes game breaking. With Shalia the inconvenience she offers is enough to carry her well into the ranks of playable. If Tajic is even a tenth as good in that area (which is probably a reasonable estimate for what it will be) then it will be a decent boost to the power of the card overall. Tajic is just a very solid, rounded, high power level on theme beater. He will even typically leave some residual value in the form of +1/+1 counters once dead and gone. A lot more card than Ahn-Crop Crasher which itself is a good and playable little beater.

Flower // Flourish 1

This is a bit low power in either mode. Much as I love a one mana find a land card this is a whole lot worse than too many other cards doing that. You have to actively want the top end for this card to appeal. If you want some low end fixing and thinning there are many better alternatives in both green and white sufficient that this shouldn't ever come up on a radar purely for Flower. The only decks that would want Flourish are token decks but at 20% more to cast than Overrun arguably doing under half the work I can't really see that being exciting. As such, you need to have a tokens deck that needs a half land card and a little bit more reach at the top end. This is playable as a piece of fine tuning in one specific archetype. An unfortunate place to be if you want to see a lot of action. Marginal, low powered and narrow cards mostly gather dust.

Experimental Frenzy 5

So this is a red Future Sight that costs one less. It does have a downside but it seems like it has more upside. Red is a far better colour for this effect than blue. This is potentially quite a legitimate card draw tool for some burn lists. With a low enough curve you are only going to be limited by seeing lands too often. That can be mitigated fairly easily with shuffle effects, draw effects and specific cards like Divining Top. You can even pair this with green cards and use extra land drop mechanics to really milk this for value. Nothing sounds more juicy than having this in play and a library full to the brim with Shocks and Bolts! Probably yet another one too narrow for the drafting cube but close enough and cool enough that it is absolutely getting an extended trial period in which to prove itself.

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