Sunday, 13 January 2019
Ravnica Allegiance Preliminary Reviews Part XII
Mirror March 0
This is bad. It is bad because it is random and unreliable but it would still be bad even if it wasn't those other things. Six mana do nothing cards smart rather. A six mana card should win the game on its own and not the help of cards later on in the game. This isn't even averaging one token per cast, more like nine tenths of a copy. Even in a Krark's Thumb (meme) deck where you can push that average nicely above one token this card is still horrible. I guess it had to be horrible because otherwise you will get people randomly getting a bunch of free dorks on the first trigger and one shotting their opponent. That kind of thing gets very old very quickly.
This is very expensive for what it is and does. Of the various blue four drops that do this sort of thing I cannot think of one that is worse than this. I don't even like this all that much in a counter themed deck. The cost is simply too high for the kind of returns you are getting. If I am playing a synergy deck my four drops better be devastatingly powerful. Also it looks and sounds daft.
Font of Agonies ? I'll guess at 3
So this card has taxed my rules knowledge more than I would like. I think this card works specifically for cards with a life payment cost. This means cards with "pay X life" before the colon. This means it won't work for cards that simply cause you to lose life such as Dark Confidant. It should also work with cards like the shock lands with a may clause in them. Oh, and a naughty bunch of cards with Phyrexian mana too... I have no intuitive grasp of how many cards will trigger this that are in the cube or are nearly good enough to be. Nor do I know what percentage of those are black although I can at least guess that most are black and that lands and artifacts probably make up the next biggest groups. Really this card is all about the support, if it has it without effort then it will be nuts. If it can have it with minor effort then it will be good. If it is hard to get and puts a strain on your build or worse then it won't be worth it. Your first kill with this costs you a card and 3 mana which isn't great but any subsequent kills you get with it will be very high value indeed. You can kill at instant speed and you can still surprise people even if this is in play. The surprise is the life payment then rather than the Font. You can kill any kind of target at any sort of size. This is good removal if you can reliably charge it. It is great removal if you can reliably charge it in a longer game and regain life as well. A key part of what makes this so good is you get a counter per life paid rather than per instance of paying life. This means two shock lands will give you a full charge. I expect to see this in some devotion decks and some enchantment decks paired with things like Necropotence and Yawgmoth's Bargain. This card certainly needs testing, it might well just be good enough for the cube if I have overlooked a bunch of life payment cards but odss on it isn't. Cards that rely on other cards just wind up being too narrow.
Paza of Harmony 1
I probably play this in a Maze's End deck! Beyond that this has no place in cube. Gate support is OK but it isn't a reason to play Gates yet. Pauper aside, you certainly shouldn't be playing Gates just as dual lands if you can help it. If you are not playing Gates you absolutely have no reason to play this!
Gate's Ablaze 0
Deceptively bad early but some nice scaling. This is a Pyroclasm at best on turn three unless you use some ramp. To get three damage with it you need to wait till turn four. I might play this in a Maze's End deck as it has some reasonable scaling but I imagine I am more likely to run Pyroclasm or Toxic Deluge or something else good.
Glass of the Guildpact 1
The issue this has is a distinct lack of one drops that are gold. Even in some five colour monstrosity you are going to struggle to get eight good gold one drops. You can actually get pretty close to eight in a Naya shell without losing too much power and synergy. From two onwards you probably only want gold dorks if you are running a Naya aggro deck anyway so that is fine. The thing is that is a lot of effort to go to just to shave one mana and some colour requirement off your Glorious Anthem. There are a number of options on that sort of thing outside of white as well. This is a powerful effect for the cost but it is very hard to build around making it not just narrow but also probably bad as well. Zero hope ever in a drafting cube but for singleton constructed decks this is still a stretch.
Skewer the Critics 8
This is probably the best any-target burn spell we have seen since Arc Trail or Galvanic Blast. It is high damage and low cost. It is very efficient in most senses. You cannot reliably use it early but that is pretty much this done for drawbacks. It isn't even a huge drawback in any sort of burn heavy deck, you want to use your splittable burn and low damage burn in the early game and save your meatier burn spells for the mid to late game. I like Skewer way more than all the other stipulation or cost reduction Lightning Bolts we have seen over the years, of which there are many. Rift Bolt, Wizards Lightning, Fiery Temper, Shard Volley, Sonic Seizure, and Collateral Damage! All of those cards have seen play and are all strong in the right place. I think Skewer is a lot more generally playable than any of those cards and also outclasses most of them when they are in their ideal setting as well. In all the ways Drill Bit is good this is also good. Unlike Drill Bit this thing has a far better time of scaling. The removal aspects rarely become dead and the reach element steadily gets better. Drill Bit simply gets worse over time. This is a little clunky for clearing out blockers as you cannot achieve the spectacle through combat damage. It also has poorer synergy with prowess creatures for the same reasons. These are minor setbacks however as Skewer isn't a disaster when it doesn't have spectacle. Great card and yet another big boost to red.
This is not a new Destructive Revelry despite the bits of it that look identical! This is three mana and it is advertised prior to being used as removal. They are different cards with different functions. This is a mediocre Naturalize effect but luckily that is not all it is. This is also an ongoing punisher card. It might well be enough of one to be good against storm decks in modern. I imagine it will get a decent amount of damage done in cube too. In my non-combo unpowered cube I expect this will get somewhere in the region of a damage a turn (cycle) on average with this. More against the slower decks and less against the more aggressive ones. It hits cheap cantrip cards the most and they are fairly popular in cube. Overall this just feels like sideboard card. The punishment isn't significant enough just to run as a threat and it is too unreliable in where it will perform well. Having a Destructive Revelry on tap is nice but it is also a bit too narrow to be the reason you play a card. It is great on a thing that is otherwise doing stuff such as Qasali Pridemage but on this I think it is just going to wind up dead too often. It is still a lovely space economic sideboard card that has application in most formats. It is probably maindeckable in multiplayer formats where it will be less narrow and more powerful. This card has a lot going on but it is spread quite wide. One that needs testing, it might wind up being an oppressive mainstay.
Dovin's Acuity 1
I like this a lot but it isn't much good for any sort of cube. Three mana to draw a card and gain two life? At sorcery speed? I don't really care how many times you get to do that, it isn't all that good. It is better than doing nothing or bad things but it is worse than doing anything you should be doing. Getting it back is tough too, playing instants at sorcery speed isn't viable for a lot of them and savagely hampers the value of others. This card is very mana inefficient and it is limiting on your options. This might have an outside chance in some kind of enchantment themed deck but I doubt even that has much hope.
Orzhov Enforcer 6
This seems strong in a relatively subtle way. It is somewhere between Doomed Traveler and Baleful Strix. It is a lot more card than Traveler as both halves of it are relevant. It is more presence than Strix with three times as much total toughness. Strix is still a far better card but that is because Strix is almost free. Imposter costs you a card. That means you have to really want the effect. What is the effect? It is a defensive card or it is a Blood Artist card. You are either sacrificing things for value and filling up the board or you are just trying to stay alive so that you can win the late game with your more powerful cards. This blocks a whole lot better than Wall of Omens (although you would hope so given the discrepancy in card cost) and it does a whole lot more than Doomed Dissenter or any of the other black two mana two in one creature cards on offer really. I think this will be a bit of a filler card but it is one that is playable in a number of places so that will help it out a lot. This is low power but reasonably well suited for two distinct roles and so I can see it getting some play. I can also see it falling by the wayside for that low power in the way the black two drop explore dork did.
Lumbering Battlement 0
Vigilance is not the help this card needed. With trample this might have had a hope but as it is it has both a low floor and a low ceiling. The best use for this is mass removal protection or perhaps some flicker based shenanigans but at five mana sorcery speed I can't see where this is ever going to bear fruit.
Hero of Precinct One 1
Cool card but far too narrow for the drafting cube. You just cannot draft the required density of stuff to make it good. This does have more hope in constructed builds but I think we need more payoff for gold cards than this to bother build arounds. I want this to be good but can't see how or where that happens. Not yet at least, perhaps in a decade or so when we have the depth in gold spells required. A big part of the problem is that gold cards are infrequently one drops and one drops tend to be the best support cards. Building around this is possible but too onerous for the returns, especially when you have options like Monastery Mentor and Young Pyromancer you can abuse instead. This is and makes humans however which does open up some potential directions for the tribe.