Saturday 5 January 2019

Ravnica Allegiance Preliminary Reviews Part V

Growth-Chamber Guardian 0

Sadly the main bit of this card is useless in singleton formats. I think this is pretty good otherwise... Not sure it is Branchwalker or Thorn dude levels of good so probably not making waves in standard yet but certainly one to watch after the next rotation. A Bear is fairly lame but one that can jump to a 4/4 permanently for 3 mana at instant speed is a bit more threatening. When it draws another card as well it is even better! Something like a Curse of Predation would also empower this dork a lot and remove the need of activating to get the card back.

Wilderness Reclamation 2

Very potent but hard to abuse and highly niche. In the right kind of Simic mana and card draw deck this is going to produce a lot of useful mana. Sadly it is less abusable than Heartbeat of Spring effects and far less powerful than As Foretold. Perhaps it will allow for some kind of redundancy in an As Foretold control deck. Typically I prefer ramping with cheaper cards earlier on and using these points in the curve to make more meaningful plays. This is probably better than Awakening as it isn't symmetrical and it doesn't give a small window to your opponent in their turn where you are still tapped down. You probably don't overly care about the creature side of things if you are running a deck using this either. Your ramp will be lands based. I reckon I can probably make a deck that is OK and makes good use of this card but that doesn't make it good!

Rakdos, the Showstopper 1

I think this blows for cube. This is a gold six drop with some questionable effects! There is no way I am running this kind of jank over Massacre Wurm or Inferno Titan or indeed vast swathes of other more powerful and more reliable cards. The design on this is cute and the card isn't bad. It might well wind up getting some love in standard because of cards like Carnage Tyrant and it will be a big name in commander for sure. It certainly looks way better than Reiver Demon! I don't think it is good design though as it is a bit too powerful for what should be a more "fun" effect. No one wants to win or lose a game they have been involved in for some time just based on a coin flip. If this turns out to be good in standard I suspect we will have some unhappy competitors.

Pestilent Spirit 2

This is a potent card that is made incredibly narrow due to the support it needs to be effective. Really you need this to be in a Rakdos deck as red has basically all the ping effects. It feels a bit flimsy and in need of support to cut it as a pseudo-gold card and so I don't expect this to be worthy of the drafting cube. I think there will be some decks in which it is a reasonable fit but they will be tailored ones rather than limited ones. This isn't really potent enough or abusable enough to make any big waves in the constructed side of cube. It is just an OK 3/2 for 3 that boosts some of your other cards value a little. One to keep an eye on if for some reason black winds up with a bunch of good ping. There is at least one black ping effect in this set so far!

End-Raze Forerunners 6

Backup Craterhoof Behemoth! This is actually better than Behemoth when you have one or fewer other dorks and also in many cases if the first hit isn't lethal. The real question is whether this is better than Decimator of the Provinces as that is its real competition. The answer feels like a solid yes although not in every case. Decimator can be found with Ancient Stirrings and it can bypass countermagic at least for the effect. Where Forerunners outclass the Decimator is in their ability coming on an EtB effect and thus making them better to put into play somehow. They are also better as a green card for some nont Ancient Stirrings pairings and for the minor but not useless vigilance. The main appeal of Forerunners over Decimator is cost. Emerge scales really badly with Overrun effects and so broadly 8 mana beats 10 or 9 minus a bit and one of your dorks. Occasionally you get outstanding value on a dork sacrifice, still have enough for fatal and get to do so a couple of turns sooner as a result of the emerge but in practice this isn't doing much to offset the drawbacks. I think Forerunners will see much more of the play as backup Craterhoof for being a bit more rounded and consistent. It might be the help green ramp needs to be more drafted. Ramp is unpopular because it doesn't give you loads of chance to outplay people. Multiple options on one of your best ramp payoff cards might well be just the ticket. Not to outplay people but just to make the archetype powerful and consistent enough that you don't need to outplay people to beat them! I can imagine many lists that would happily run both as well.

Prime Speaker Vannifar 4

Another Birthing Pod! Pod is a very powerful card but it is a bit weaker in cube and a lot weaker in cube draft. Building a deck with a sensible depth of Pod chain dorks leaves little room for much else and is really hard to do in limited. The exact same will be true for Vannifar and she is doubly narrow as she is gold. That being said she is also a dork and so is generally easier to find and play. She costs less to use than Pod but is also slower to get online both through initial cost of four and summoning sickness. She is also easier to deal with before she does much of much. Absolutely Vannifar will make Pod themed decks stronger and more reliable but that is all I really see her doing in cube. While she is a little more playable than Pod in a generic dork deck rather than a full build around as she is a dork, the old Pillarfield Ox is hardly an exciting prospect!

Carnival // Carnage 4

One of the more curious cards of this cycle. Both modes have their issues and it might result in this not seeing all that much play. Carnival is both situational and low powered. It is good early against some things but it really needs the backup of a mode that is all round good. It is also vastly worse than Twin or Forked Bolt in most cases. Always having to split the damage on Carnival makes it much more of a ping card than a Shock and that is rarely worth a card. The best things you can do with Carnival can all be done by other cards that have substantially better scaling and value later in the game. Blightning for four mana is neither all that exciting nor is it all that reliable. Often players will have emptied their hands by the time you can sensibly play this. Carnage can't even hit walkers with the damage. While probably good in standard this seems to be a bit over stretched for cube use. I think it would be fine in cube but below par. The lower power level of this card really stands out because of the situational aspect of both halves which is not he case on most of the rest of the cycle. It is far from a free inclusion in a deck like many other cards in this design format that we have seen.

High Alert 2.5

A nice fun build around for the Arcades decks out there. More key redundancy for decks like that is super important, even more so in EDH where the Arcades archetype is most frequently seen. This is even better than Assault formation in all ways except that it is hard to use to support Doran as that would be four colours. Beyond defender themed decks High Alert has a small chance of seeing play as a combo card for something like an Axebane Guardian but all told both those deck ideas are probably contained in the same 40 leaving this with just the one archetype in which it fits. A good card to have for fun brews but certainly not one I anticipate getting a lot of use.

Canonize // Consume 7.5

This is quite an exceptional answer card. It has a feel of Cast Out about it. Both cover you fairly widely but not all that cost effectively however you can cash it in for another card on the cheap. The issues facing this card are that it is a little clunky and that it is in colours that don't desperately need the answers it has to offer. It is two mana to cycle and needs a target in a graveyard. The removal mode is sorcery speed and of course in two colours. It is great at killing big awkward cards like Carnage Tyrant but often it will be hitting your opponents choice of two or three powered dorks which isn't all that impressive. Comsuming Vapors saw very little play and trading rebound for the hitting of the biggest thing sounds broadly comparable. I am not sure that really matters. This card will mostly Canonize things and that will be pretty good. It will be very impressive removal when it needs to be and otherwise it will be low cost mild disruption. Most decks have things that utilize the bin and a nice clean playable disruption card like this will be a great addition to cube. It will make you safer all round without imposing a significant cost on your build. It provides a huge and significant range of choices and it has a nice high floor. I greatly look forward to shrinking a Tarmogoyf or removing delirium in combat using this! I see this much more as an Esper card than an Orzhov one. Orzhov decks are more often aggressive and this has less place in those being a costly reactive card. When you are mostly just trying to stay alive then this takes a jump in value. It is good in midrange too, more because black and white are typically a little less flexible than other colours. It is also still playable in aggro but it is filler rather than something you want.

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