Wednesday 5 September 2018

Guilds of Ravnica Preliminary Review Part II

Firemind's Research 2

I want to like this but it is just a bit too fair for how narrow it is. It is like a limited Shrine of Burning Rage and a bad Trail of Evidence. Essentially this adds "draw 0.4 cards" or "deal one damage" to your instants or sorceries for a cost of 1 and 0.4 extra mana respectively. These are reasonable prices for these perks, made even more reasonable by being able to store up those things and use them at the time of your choosing. The issue is two fold. For limited cube it is not just restricted to Izzet colours but also to card type heavy builds and this means it needs to be a lot better than it is. For constructed decks it has more hope but it is still somewhat on the fair side. The upfront cost of a card and two mana really trashes the efficiency of the subsequent card draw or damage for some activations worth. You are not paying 2 mana for five damage but four mana and a card. Likewise with the draw, you need to be removing nearer the ten counters mark before you are sufficiently close to the desired efficiency. Cute card, versatile and ultimately good value but super slow and really in need of heavy build around. Assume your deck is half lands and half things that trigger Firemind's Research and that consider drawing this when half way through your deck. That gives you ten triggers if you see the rest of your deck. Without a bunch of reshuffle and flashback support this isn't even going to be able to get where it needs to be just to be playable in the average case.

Murmuring Mystic 6

This is strongly reminiscent of both Talrand, Sky Summoner and Docent of Perfection. If you were solely to look at the numbers you might conclude Mystic was the worst of the three however when you consider context I think that reverses. Five toughness is pretty huge. When you are playing a card like this all you really care about is how cheap it is and how survivable. Those two things let you have it in play longer which obviously lets you milk it for more value. Blue has plenty of spells, cheap ones and ones that draw and select cards. Cards that trigger off such things are very powerful, all you need is for them to stick and Mystic does that well. You might argue that Talrand is better what with making 2/2s but even if you say a 2/2 flier is twice as good as a 1/1 (which I would argue against) I would still say that Mystic will be in play for over twice as long on average. Mystic will also do relevant things himself while in play. It is desperate times when Talrand is getting in on the combat action! Mystic however can block things all day and still mostly stay safer than a Talrand.

Radical Idea 5

I am a little sad that this is so underpowered but to be honest if it had much more power than it does it would be everywhere. This is basically a good Think Twice and Think Twice is a fine enough card. Why is this better? Well, it allows for more synergy  and it costs less. If you are using Think Twice as card advantage it is pretty limp. It is when you are combining it with other effects that it starts to look alright. Radical Idea is much better suited to the kinds of places that might want such things. It works brilliantly with self mill and discard themed decks. Just having an instant speed option on a rummage for two mana is good. I suspect this is a little bit too in need of synergy to perform at cube level and thus won't be stellar in drafts but I think this will do good work in more tailored decks. Useful enough that I will also give this a trial in the cube.

Healer's Hawk 2

Much as I highly rate Rustwing Falcon I am not so into this. This is still a 1/1 and is easily killed and does poorly in combat. The lifelink doesn't add to the baseline of this card like toughness does for Falcon. The lifelink only helps with the scaling potential, and not in a particularly exciting way I might add. White aggressive decks are least in need of lifegain support, that is not their weakness. Vulnerability to ping and -1/-1 effects is however! If I really wanted lifegain on a one drop with combat potential I would play Leonin Vanguard, or Mardu Woe Reaper or Legion's Landing or Soldier of the Pantheon. That being said, if I want evasion on my one drop there are only a couple of superior cards to a Suntail Hawk (Judge's Familiar, Topplegiest, Skymarcher, Rustwing is all of the unrestricted white options I think off the top of my head). As such this might just wind up getting some love. Perhaps even Soltari Foot Soldier is better if you are just about the evasion!

Direct Current 1

This is pretty weak. Compared to Firebolt we lose all the initial tempo with a card thrice the cost. Although we gain the mana back on the back end going from five to three is nothing like the same as going from one to three. Just considering it as a percentage change paints a lot of the picture as to why it isn't a saving grace. A Shock is fine so getting a free but woefully bad shock with it is great. Terrible three mana Shock is so terrible that giving you the option on playing it again is really more of an insult than an improvement. So just on the mana elements this card has it fails pretty spectacularly compared to Firebolt and that is before you account for having to discard a card to play the god awful card again. It is hard to rule out a card that can just sit in your bin and give you a discard outlet while doing something useful. This card is sufficiently bad however that I am not even confident that it is playable when the drawback is turned into an advantage.

Arboretum Elemental 1

In cube hexproof is generally better than indestructible. Comically this might outperform the Impervious Greatwurm despite having about a third of the stats and much the same cost! Much as this might outperform it I doubt I will ever get to find out as I don't plan on bothering much with this card. It needs way too much else to make it good and when you have those kinds of things you can use them to facilitate much better things than this.

Status // Statue 6.5

Hard to know exactly where to place this. Typically I want my top end removal to hit planeswalkers but that is the only real failing of this card. It makes up for being gold and for being four mana reasonably well with a one mana mode playable in either of its colours. This makes it comfortably the most splashable gold removal card and also one of the most versatile. It ranges from one to four mana and it has four modes of action. It isn't really able to get tempo or value like a Kolaghan's Command but it is not really trying to be that sort of card. It is much more in competition with Cast Out and is probably more comparable to it in power level as well. Much as I prefer cycling, mono coloured and the ability to hit walkers to how Statue works I think all that combined is only just weightier than the lack of permanence of Oblivion Ring style removal enchantments. Being a little worse than Cast Out is no bad thing, that card is seeing a vast amount of play. I like this card, I find it interesting and I am a huge fan of the splashability of this particular flavour of gold card design. I want it to perform but it could well prove a little too inefficient. Vraska's Contempt is far more worth the four mana as a kill spell with lifegain and exile on offer. I think the value and performance of Status will ultimately determine how good this is in cube. If Status is rarely useful then this card will just be a bad overcost Maelstrom Pulse. If it is proving to be something good then we should have another Cast Out level of card to play around with.

Rosemane Centuar 1

Basically a limited card but it is impressively powerful. Not only is it reasonably priced for what you get but it continues to help with convoke strategies once in play and beating down. An elegant card and likely a pretty terrifying one to face in a Rav draft deck with cheap dorks to ramp it and subsequent ones out. It makes me wonder if there is a viable convoke deck in cube on its way.

Barging Sergeant and Hammer Dropper 0

These are kindof the same card. Both are also very much limited cards and they would seem to suggest a pretty high bar for common power level. No one is paying 4 or more mana for a two toughness dork in cube with basically just mentor though.

Moodmark Painter 2

This is a bit of a Grey Merchant of Asphodel. Obviously this scales with dead dorks rather than devotion and it allows for much more counterplay. The latter is likely a good thing, and the card is reduced in cost as well. Sadly this has poor tribal tags. As a zombie there would have been a number of decks that supported it with sufficient stuff in the bin. As it stands I don't think there are many archetypes that would look to a card like this. I like it, certainly one to keep an eye on but presently I don't see this offering a consistent enough punch to tempt anyone into playing it. My fear for these undergrowth cards is that they seem to counterable with any sort of graveyard hate. They needed to be a little more powerful than they are to offset the very real chance they do nothing of much at all. If your graveyard was untouchable the two undergrowth cards I have seen would be more in line with the requisite power for cube contenders.

Sonic Assault 0

I'm going to go ahead and call this one unplayable although it probably isn't in much the same way that Direct Current is woeful and yet still playable. Discard, graveyard and direct direct damage are all useful themes. I would be unhappy about playing this in booster draft...

Deadly Visit 0

Well, it is a lot better than Sonic Assault in booster draft at least! Probably less playable in cube but when you are already past the floor that sort of thing doesn't matter.

Unexplained Disappearance 0

A slightly better Voyage's End. While both are fine cards there is simply way too much in the way of better creature bounce than these sorts of things. There just isn't the level of demand on bounce as there is on other core effects like discard, burn, countermagic, card quality, ramp etc. If there was this might enjoy some play. I have precisely one creature only bounce card in cube and unshockingly it costs one. It only just gets enough action to merit its slot.

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