Monday 14 January 2019

Ravnica Allegiance Preliminary Reviews Part XIII

Priest of Forgotten Gods 6

This is cheap but it is also small and does nothing at all until you untap and meet the activation cost of two other dorks (you want to sac). The sacrifice effect is impressively powerful but it would need to be for this to be a consideration given the start point. You get a lot back from your two dorks cost, arguably more than a pair of one drops would cost you. You get your mana and one of the cards back meaning you get a net of a zero mana edict plus two face damage. That is reasonable but it does depend on what you are trying to do and what you are facing. While this card is narrow it does seem to have significant overlap with most of the things black does with small creatures. With cards like Gravecrawler and Bloodghast this is just free value. With cards like Blood Artist it is a decent enabler. It can freely feed on recursive dorks and two in one dorks and that is all lovely. I think this card is fortunate based on the state of cube metas, or at least unpowered ones. I think this card is one that would normally require too much setup and be too narrow but just so happens to fit in pretty well with what is going on. I expect this to do some impressive things and dominate some games. I also expect this to be a Squire now and again as well rather keeping this in check. Priest of the Forgotten Gods has a lot of similarities to Skirsdag High Priest which has never shone in cube. There are a few reasons I rate this new offerings chances better. While sacrificing dorks may sound more onerous than tapping them it turns out that it is still a much more convenient and easier activation on Forgotten Gods. They dudes can be tapped, they can be sacrificed without a morbid trigger and the results are a lot more dynamic. It is quite hard to compare 2 damage, a card, gaining BB and an Edicts with a 5/5 let alone taking the cost of those effects into account. They are not worlds apart but Forgotten Gods lets you do more and works with other things better. It is disruptive, immediate and a lot more dangerous. Certainly a 5/5 is dangerous but it doesn't have the same ceiling of danger as two mana over what you should have on curve. I expect this to be rather more potent than the other cards I rated as 6/10 but I have kept the rating on the low end so as to account for the supporting synergies this already has in my cube.

Incubation Druid 7

This seems like the long awaited new Lotus Cobra, a card that is finally seeming a little tired. Incubation Druid is the big brother of Joraga Treespeaker. This is an OK two drop that becomes relevant in the late game. It is very much like Channeler Initiate in that reagrd, a card that is currently still going strong in cube. Initiate is a better fixer and more effortlessly turns into a relevant body however Initiate is capped at three mana produced at one per turn without help and it has little scaling potential. Incubation Druid on the other hand can be exploited fully. Turn one; Llanowar Reborn. Turn two; Incubation Druid. Turn three; Enjoy many mana! It works with tonnes of great standalone cards too like Dromoka's Command not to mention the new untapping Battlegrowth. Three mana Nissa, Hadana's Climb, and Rishkar. A two mana card that can tap for three is pretty off the charts. This can repeatedly do so. It is so potent it is worth supporting. Implement of Ferocity ahoy! It is still totally fine when you can't counter it up freely. It is comparable to a lot of two mana ramp early on and it will even outclass most ramp when drawn late. High floor, scaling and abuse. This card ticks a lot of boxes. It is a lot of power but it doesn't feel oppressive either. It is just a 0/2 ramp card for two. It is not as safe as Tribe Elder or Caryatid. It is not as bursty on its own as Devoted Druid nor as proactive as Lotus Cobra. Green has two mana ramp cards for days and while this feels at or near the top of the pile it is very much still one of many. Now, get to anywhere near the top of the pile of one mana ramp cards and I am all ears.... This will be good and interesting in cube but not a particular standout. In standard however it might be format defining, especially with Llanowar Elf out there too. Many a rapid Carnage Tyrant sounds a bit scary.

Tomb of the Guildpact 3

This is closer to the mark for a card that benefits from a focus on gold cards. The other two in this set are both aggressive focused while this is a slower sort of card that will play better with the premium cube gold cards. It reminds me a bit of Pyromancer's Goggles. Quite powerful when you build around it but too far up the curve to be something you can easily make the focus or plan of your deck around. Tomb also reminds me a bit of Vanquisher's Banner. These cards are all composite five drops. They offer you two three(ish) mana effects in one card and cost it down to five so that you are at least a mana and a card up. It looks potent on paper but is a lot harder to make work than cheaper more single purpose cards are. Luckily mana production is a very general thing and so while Tomb isn't really a ramp card the mana production will be good. A bit like how the flip lands are all extra mana in the late game and that is often nice even though it isn't why you are playing the cards. Tomb is quite generally playable. Three or more colour good stuff decks are a thing in cube and they play a lot of gold cards naturally. This would just be a fine source of value in any of those decks. In slower and golder cubes this is probably very potent, like way better than Gilded Lotus, Coaltion Relic or Coercive Portal.

Captive Audience 1

Short of cheating this into play the card is terrible. It is pretty bad regardless. Giving your opponent choices? Mind Twist might well do nothing. Going to four life might be gaining life! Five 2/2 dorks is likely pretty consistently good but it is not like we have seen Gideon's Phalanx doing great things and if I want an army for 7 mana I know which of the two cards I am going to prefer! So this is powerful but it is slow and clunky and narrow and unlikely to be as devastating as you desire. I think if I am in the business to Academy Rector or Replenish I will find many more suitable or more effective enchantments to use. Brooding Saurian is both comedy and brutal against this! I like the flavour and feel of this card but sadly the execution of it is way off for any useful applications.

Sunder Shaman 0

Very poor Trygon Predator here. Not useful enough evasion. Very slow for a removal effect. Unlikely to work as said removal due to lack of evasion. Just play a Deadbridge Goliath or literally any other half decent red or green dork. This is efficient for stats but that isn't enough to make it good. The upside simply isn't the kind of thing you want on a card this far up the curve.

Biogenic Ooze 5

This looks pretty good. The floor is basically a pair of 3/3 dorks and the ceiling is some utterly game ending Pack Rat of a card. This goes tall and it goes wide and it does so pretty quickly. While this is comfortably there on power level it has a few other hurdles to get over for cube play. It needs to be better than just cube worthy power with green having more top rate five drop threats than most of the other colours put together. Yet more green five drops will need so serve a desired role or outclass existing ones sufficiently. The direct competition is from cards like Whsiperwood Elemental and Deranged Hermit. There are strengths and weaknesses to all but I suspect the Ooze comes out on top, just. Ooze and Elemental are both 6/6 for 5 over two bodies and they both naturally add stats to the board at the same rate. Whisperwood is arguably preferable in a deck that is going to be tighter on mana but Ooze craps all over it for reach if you are will to throw some more mana at it. Elemental is a little more vulnerable to removal in your turn when it is made as it can die without giving you any returns, Ooze will at least leave a 2/2. That being said, it is wildly easier to kill a 2/2 than a 4/4 so there is that. Elemental also brings some mild protection for your other creatures. Neither card compares to the immediate impact of the Hermit who brings 50% more stats to the board and more than double the bodies. Hermit really shuts down a weenie ground based assault but Hermit quickly becomes the weakest of the three when you arrive at your following upkeep. None are close to the power level of Gearhulk or Ishkanah even though those cards are rather different in how you play them. I think to get the required play we would need to be on that sort of power level and so I don't think Ooze will last in the cube despite the high power and the reasonable chance it is the best stand alone green Siege-Gang Commander style card.

Repudiate // Replicate 1

Not much of a fan of this one but I have never much liked Clones. Much as Clone effects are a lot better than how much I like them ones that target only your own cards are actually just bad in cube. They are dangerous to use, frequently dead and otherwise rather win more. Making such a card a modal one is a big old help but you need the other mode to be generally playable and of acceptable power level. Repudiate is neither of those things. Well, it is kind of one or the other. You can play it on loads of things but most of them won't be worth a card or two mana, let alone both. There simply are not enough high value targets to make Repudiate consistent enough at the requisite power level and so this is a split card with two narrow halves leaving as a narrow card. Nice to have a mono green Stifle effect but I rather prefer Bind if that will work. I can't see myself playing this but I can see it getting some play.

Collision // Colossus 5

This is a potent card an no mistake. Colossal Might is a premium combat trick and has seen some cube action in its day. It is a bit like the Searing Blaze of Combat Tricks, it not only wins the combat but it forces a chunk of face damage through as well. Bolting on anything to an already good card is great and this gets quite a potent and useful bolt on in Collision. It is not a broadly useful card but it is great at doing its job and when that job needs doing it is a valuable one. This kills a number of premium threats in cube. This card is super interesting and will help to answer future questions on modal cards. I will be watching the performance of this one closely to help further my abilities at rating modal cards. Basically this is competing with Ghor-Clan Rampager, comically rather like the other Gruul split card. Both this and Rampager are excellent and comparable pump spells and both come with an alternate mode to lessen the burden of the inherently situational combat trick. Rampager has 4/4 for four with trample mode which is OK, it is reasonable power but only passable mana efficiency. This has Collision which is much more mana efficient but it is also situational. I poopooed the last split card for being two narrow effects. This is similar but it has higher power on the effects which are both rather more desirable ones in a cube setting. I think it will wind up being benched a lot as it is rather a luxury include. I like it but I think most of the best work this card does will be from the sideboard. When you know you have good Collision targets the card is exceptional and clearly superior to Rampager.

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