Wednesday 16 January 2019

Ravnica Allegiance Preliminary Reviews Part XV

Tin Street Dodger 1

A Raging Goblin you can force through. Seems fairly useless all told. One damage is minimal per turn, having to spend a mana to assure that damage is poor. With more in the way of buff effects or rewards for connecting then this would impress more. In the drafting cube the only thing I can think that works well with this are the Sword of This and That cycle. Hardly an exciting proposition. This fails to do anything close to useful like a Frenzied Goblin does. Frenzied Goblin enhances your other cards while this needs cards to enhance it. It is not just that this is low power and utility but it is demanding on your resources in an ongoing capacity. It starts out not worth it and continues to be not worth it each turn there after as well!

Storm Strike 1

A cheap and useful card with scry. This is curious, as a combat trick it is potent, it should turn a chump or trade into a chump for them. What it is bad at is forcing through damage. A card like Titan's Strength has comparable combat utility but much better face damage potential. I don't see where you would play this but it is not the sort of card you go writing off. One mana scry instants that do anything useful are exciting cards on the whole.

Spear Spewer 1

A cheap and reliable way of triggering spectacle. This is even pretty durable for a one drop. There is also the ability to "abuse" this with untap creature effects. Sadly this is a pretty poor baseline card. A 1/2 unblockable with psuedo vigilance, that can't hurt creatures and does you as much damage as your opponent! We do not presently need spectacle or bloodthirst enough to look at a card like this at all seriously but perhaps one day. Cheap and different cards are always good to keep in mind.

Goblin Gathering 1

Terrible as this is in singleton I can imagine a deck focused enough that this would be playable. Mogg Alarm and Molten Birth have seen some minor play in cube and this has the odd perk over them despite the lower power as a singleton.

Deface 2

Cute card and one to watch if defenders continue to grow in numbers in the cube. Most of those that are there are not ones you want to waste a card on killing. That or they have hexproof... This is a long way off as playable as Abrade but it is on the right sort of tracks. It might be good in some cubes, is probably good in some sideboards and may well one day be good in more than just some cubes.

Dagger Caster 0

Just too low power. You want your Plague Mare cards at three mana not at four. This is not open to scaling or other abuses and gains nothing from adding redundancy to Chainwhirler effects. This is just a no hoper for cube despite looking comparable to a couple of strong cube cards.

Vindictive Vampire 1

Blood Artist decks seldom stretch to Falkenrath Noble for their support and so I suspect the same will be true of this. The extra toughness is probably better than flying on a creature you are playing for the ongoing effect rather than anything else. This is certainly a lot better for the EDH people with it hitting all opponents but in heads up this is just a four drop version of a two mana card. It isn't even Blood Artist good, merely Zulaport Cutthroat good...

Thirsty Shade 1

A one drop, a mana sink, a source of lifegain. This card has a lot of things that it does and that black quite wants. It is even fairly open to being played in decks lighter on black mana unlike most pumpable shade cards. Despite all the cool upsides this card has it is mostly just a one mana 1/1 with low impact effects. What are you going to do, make it a terrifying 2/2 on turn three? Really not getting a lot done without abusive levels of mana. Filler in a black devotion deck perhaps? Three is so much mana to pump and 1/1 is such a small and irrelevant starting point. The value of a one drop is that it is relevant early but this really isn't and so you might as well play other things that actually do what it is your deck needs.

Blade Brand 1

This seems like a trap. It is only ever a two for one removal spell when a block is made in which no creatures would die. The collisions of the 2/3 dudes. This is rare and pretty low powered as well. Most of the time you will use this to trade up where a small dork kills a big one. That will be fine but it will be poor tempo and just a 1 for 1. It does at least make cards like Bloodghast rather better. Mostly though you are just better off using cards like Doom Blade to kill the would be blocker and get that damage in. Or just getting those creatures dead without worrying about having your own in play to do so. This has hidden costs and preconditions and it can't even help force through damage. This has all the hallmarks of bad removal.

Wall of Lost Thoughts 3

Self mill is increasingly powerful in cube with so many cards feeding off the graveyard. Further to delve spells we have delirium, undergrowth, the drake style cards, and then all the recursion things ranging from creatures to cards with flashback. Self mill in the right deck is mana, power, utility, dig, action and all manner of good things. This is too low power and too specific to run in a drafting cube but in synergy decks it is quite appealing. It has a reasonable defensive body, a cheap price tag and a big hit of self mill. If you are playing Minister of Inquiries and Hedron Crab for self mill then there is a good chance you will look at this too.

Shimmer of Possibility 3

It always makes me sad when a reasonably fair card we could use more of is printed in a strictly worse form. First we got Anticipate and now we have this. Card quality is great and it always gets played but it isn't oppressive. Impulse certainly isn't. We just don't get enough good cheap cards to pad out the decks nor do we get enough card quality and so what meagre offerings of card quality we do get always gets used. You see the best players winning with it because it gives options and thus the ability to outplay people and so Wizards continue to print weaker card quality spells. One drops I can see why there is some caution but two drops are pretty safe. Shimmer of Possibility is fine, it will see a lot of play in combo decks where it is all about how deep you dig and instant speed is irrelevant. I can't see it getting used beyond that in my cube. What I want to see are cards that are more inline with Impulse in power and have a broader range in power. Say look at two or 3 cards normally but five when you fulfill conditions. Worldly Council type spells please, not this. A missed opportunity to do something really cool with addendum.

Sage's Row Servant 1

We have had aggressive X/1 dorks with scry at two mana outside of blue and one power two drops with scry in blue and none have really made a big impact. The Motorist is gold and so hard to learn much from. The others are low impact defensive cards. You don't want to lose card advantage in defensive decks and low impact cards effectively do that. As such I don't want to rule this out based on previous poor performances of similar looking dorks. This is much more able to be aggressive. Two power is a lot more relevant than one and will help it to trade with something respectable or do meaningful damage. Two power for two mana with two scry in a tempo based deck sounds OK but I fear it still isn't. The 2/1 is just still too limp and low power. It is good if you are just after a body but then you are going to chose a card that replaces itself or does more in some way. I like this but I fear it isn't going to see play.

Faerie Duelist 2

Too low impact to play generally but cheap and useful enough to make the cut in a tribal deck. Faeries lack low drop dorks giving this the gap it needed to get some play.

Clear the Mind 1

This is worse for control than Learn from the Past and worse for most other things than Cranial Archive. This is super narrow and it isn't even all that good. It is pretty dead all the way through the early game until mana stops being tight, then it is just a bad cycler until the late game. If I am scared of decking myself I am running Commit // Memory, Elixir of Immortality or Mistveil Plains a long time before I look at this. Clear the Mind is a do nothing. I guess technically it is graveyard disruption but that is quite a price to pay when compared to Relic of Progenitus or Tormod's Crypt.

Twilight Panther 1

A one drop cat is going to wind up in a tribal cat deck someday. This is a bit gold and not even that powerful when you have the black mana. It isn't getting near anything other than a weak under catered for tribal deck. The spirit tribe certainly isn't entertaining a card like this.

Summary Judgement 1

This is a well made card. It is interesting yet clear and simple at the same time. It would have been too low power to see play at just the 3 damage but adding the addendum for 5 makes it more potent. None of the black Assassinate cards have performed well but they are all sorcery speed. It makes them like bad Reciprocates in most ways. Judgement is instant and that makes it wildly better. White also has way way more tap creature effects it could use to turn this on. The problem I see facing this card, as with so much of the tier two white removal, is that it isn't suitable for both aggressive and defensive decks. It is basically just a weak Condemn at that point. You cannot easily use this to clear a path for attackers and so it is little use to the aggressive players. With that being about half of white decks this might as well be a gold card! As with creatures, removal now either hits the mark or it is pretty unplayable. This is super close to good but isn't quite there and so should probably be rated a 0 and not even the lowly 1 I gave it out of pity!

Justiciar's Portal 1

Another Flicker effect which might assist with some redundancy but I doubt it. The Flicker decks I have seen do well in cube are midrange to control and make use of ongoing Flicker effects like Venser, Brago, and Eldrazi Displacer rather than these one time use cards.

Impassioned Orator 2

This is just a weaker version of Soul Warden / Attendant for both costing more and for only triggering on your own stuff. Despite this the card is still cheap and still affords the redundancy in the right places and so this will see play in the lifegain themed decks, in cube at least. This might even be too poor for modern Soul Sisters. When you are an entirely on-theme two drop and you can't even get a lock in spot in a bad modern deck things are not looking all that impressive for your potency.

Arrester's Zeal 4

This is surprisingly good. It is somewhat of a split card that either offers reach or a combat trick. This makes it about as close to a burn spell as any white pump spell is looking. It however is a bit of a luxury card and it isn't swelling with power. It is a pretty fair card that just so happens to do what white aggressive decks rather need. This can easily be that early tempo surge you need to beat other tempo decks or that late game push that lets you seal the deal against the controlling decks. Sadly that is just one white archetype and it is a luxury card in those being neither a threat nor direct removal. It is a card that would compete for the slot of Jitte, Smuggler's Copter and that kind of thing. I like this a lot and will certainly be testing it but I strongly suspect this elegant little spell isn't brutal enough or playable enough for the cube. You just need to fill your luxury slots in decks with obscenely powerful cards

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