Wednesday 3 April 2019

War of the Spark: Preliminary Review Part III

Crush Dissent 0

Terrible card. A soft four mana counterspell that makes a 2/2 token. I am wondering if I have misjudged this army mechanic somehow as a lot of the cards so far, particularly the blue ones, seem to really suck. I wouldn't want to play this in an amass themed commander deck or in a WAR draft. Terrible card. At least the amass mechanic is picking up as I review this a day or so after writing it.

Teferi, Time Raveler 8

This seems very good but concerningly polar. Against decks that want to use countermagic or other instant speed disruption Teferi is going to be a massive pain. Never being able to use a counterspell or react to anything is a crippling disadvantage to decks relying on such things. I fear that would get used on a three mana enchantment with no other text. This has plenty of other text and for once we are not too bothered about the vulnerability of our planeswalker card as control decks seldom attack planeswalkers to death. Teferi lets you play sorceries at instant speed for 75% ish of the time. That is pretty low value but certainly welcome. It will be fantastic with Wraths and make you much happier running sorcery cards like Declaration in Stone and Council's Judgement. Mostly it seems as if it just has a slight buff to the value of sorcery speed removal, card quality and draw in blue. What I really like about this Teferi is that the cost of playing him is pretty low. You get a sorcery speed Repulse that can hit Disenchant targets right away if you need it. This should be enough protection for Teferi to be a fairly solid play. The card draw means you are not down on cards even if they do just attack him to death immediately and the bounce element makes it likely you wind up tempo positive. While his ongoing value, utility and disruption seem like the bane of control decks I fear he will be super low impact in other matchups and have a performance around that of Repulse. A deck that doesn't care about playing things at sorcery speed can reasonably just ignore Tef if they want to and that is a bit of an issue. Getting a quarter of a card each turn is not super scary. It takes a long time to add up. Despite not being all that once in play in some places the initial impact of Teferi is going to ensure a nice high floor on the card. He will never be bad and often be great.

Kiora, Behemoth Beckoner 4

I like this a lot. I can imagine some fantastic starts with this. Wild Growth on a Tropical Island turn one, turn two this, untap, and follow with a Frost Walker! A double ramp card that cost effectively one mana and zero cards in that example! A decent loyalty buffer too allowing you to flop this out unprotected in most cases. It does not take this card at all long to be profitable. A couple of untaps will offset the mana costs and just one trigger for the cards. Everything else beyond that point is just extra free juice. Much as I like this I think you need both elements of the card working for you to make it a worthwhile include over better ramp or better card draw. This seems like it makes it way too narrow for drafting cubes and probably a bit on the fair side for constructed events. Liking something and it being playable are not one and the same! I will certainly try and use this a bunch.

Liliana's Triumph 6.5

Rest in peace Diabolic Edict. You were a great go to card for a long long time. Both as a reference tool and as the out that did what you needed it to for the lowest cost on offer. This is strictly better and should stamp out any remaining play Diabolic Edict was seeing. Not only does this give you the chance to get a free discard effect on your Edict but it doesn't target players and will hit everyone in any multiplayer setting. Thrice improved upon Diabolic which was already the best of the Edict cards in a general sense. It isn't even that uncommon for a black player to have a Liliana in play as they are such strong cards and generally cheap and survivable too. I think this well be a good addition to the removal suite of black. Fair but usefully different and with a lovely ceiling.

Dovin's Veto 6.5

The way to win a counter war! Obviously if you use this to counter a counter then there is still the option to counter the thing the fight way over in the first place. That is pretty uncommon however. What is more common is that cards like Negate, Spell Pierce, Flusterstorm, Dispel and Glen Elandra Archmage abilities are held up to prevent countermagic and this bypasses such things and will force through your creature. Alternatively it is not a creature they countered but something they could Negate. Sadly they used a Dismiss effect first time round which you Veto'd. This means they can still stop your first card but they will not get the draw effect from their Cryptic Command / Dismiss as well. Alternatively they might be trying to force through a planeswalker and you can simply Veto that and that is that done with. This makes Veto one of the very best answers to a planeswalker out there. The only things that really come close are preemptive Pithing Needle effects. All in all this is the business in matches where everyone has countermagic. The only thing that feels like it keeps this from being utterly nuts is that we also got Teferi in this set which also wrecks havoc on the counterspell heavy opponent. It is quite nice to see this for cube as typically Dimir control destroyed Azorius control with accesss to Duress effects. With Azorius now able to dominate counter battles things feel a bit closer than before. Negate is a great card and this is a better version for no extra cost. It will see masses of play in most formats. I can see it at least getting into sideboards in legacy and perhaps even vintage! While this card does have a great magic future all lined up I am not sure how well it will do in limited cubes. Probably fine as per Supreme Verdict but I can't see it getting more play than Negate. Too much less than Negate and it won't be worth a slot despite how clearly good it is. The curse of the gold card.

Karn's Bastion 6

Lovely. My favourite mechanic on a land. I will play this a whole lot! Much more than I should. This is a Clockspinning and a Gavony Township! For any colours. This seems great with planeswalker heavy control decks all the way to aggressive counter themed decks. Proliferate is a powerful and versatile effect. It scales incredibly well and with a wide variety of things. Paying five is quite a lot to proliferate but it is incredibly convenient otherwise. I look forward to building with this and discovering all the many places you can use this well. It is on the cute side for a limited cube but far too fun and interesting for me to pass up on. As with any repeatable utility land it is on the expensive side to use and will thus be a fairly minor boost to synergies most of the time. In many decks you are likely going to be better off with basic lands. It will absolutely be the constructed decks and not the limited ones which can milk this for the most value. Possibly too minor for a slot in the drfating cube but that is not going to stop me jamming it in. It will have to do nothing for quite some time before I cut it too!

Rising Populace 0

Good limited card I suspect but not the thing for cubes. Too slow to get big and too easy to handle if it does. Not exciting enough to empower either, just a dull old Grey Ogre.

Cruel Celebrant 6.5

This is another Zulaport Cutthroat with three perks added to compensate for the going gold. Vampire tribal tag is nice, it will allow for an impressive vampire tribal aristocrats deck but it will have little to no impact on a draft cube setting. The addition of planeswalkers to the death triggers is cute. It will add a tiny but of punch to the card but it doesn't really enhance the synergies of it. Indeed playing planeswalkers in aristocrat decks tends to reduce your other synergies a little. Certainly it is a nice addition but I imagine it is less significant than vampire tag for constructed play. The real buff is the extra toughness which just makes for a much more durable dork and that is what you want on passive effect cards. This should see less play than Cutthroat despite being better much like Negate and Dovin's Veto. This however is an effect in short supply and much sought after in cube. Mine supports aristocrat style decks as well so this is pretty much a lock in for me presently. One issue this has is that it really stretches the archetype towards wanting to be Mardu while Judith just pulled it away from white. With so many variables changing for that archetype I suspect I am best off waiting to see what it looks like once the dust has settled somewhat rather than trying to predict outcomes now. Regardless this is a good card with homes ready and waiting for it.

Burning Prophet 3

This is quite a cool card. It is a Sanguinary Mage that trades toughness gains for scry. Given the reasonable 1/3 starting point I think I prefer this to the Mage by a reasonable margin. The tribal tags do not feel overly relevant here as I can only really see this getting played in prowess style decks. In those you tend to have a lot of card quality effects on spells and so having it also built into creatures is perhaps overly redundant. The issue those decks tend to have is threat density and power and Prophet isn't a huge help there. You need your threats to pack a lot of punch and Prophet fails to compare well to Thing in the Ice, Young Pyromancer or Stormchaser Mage. What Prohpet does perhaps facilitate better is a non-blue prowess style deck based in red. The scry will be far more help in such a setting and the redundancy of on theme dorks will be more important. I think this is a little too fair and too narrow to see lots of play, it is certainly not looking like it gets enough done in the drafting cube. Good but not quite there.

Honor the God-Pharaoh 3

This is a Tormenting Voice that comes with a 1/1 or a +1/+1 should you have an army for one extra mana. This seems pretty cross purposes as you don't want to waste mana on making crappy tokens when you are doing the sorts of things you do with Tormenting Voice. Certainly a 1/1 chump is no bad thing to have, it might buy some relevant time or serve any number of other purposes, it is just a bit off theme. Thus far all the red iterations of Tormenting Voice have seen an impressive amount of play and so I expect this to get at least some. There will likely be a deck where this is the best of all the various Tormenting Voice effects too.

The Wanderer 0

Preventing non-combat damage to you and your stuff is narrow to say the least. Mostly it is just useful against red and even then it is kind of just like gaining 5 life as they will aim those would be prevented damage at the Wanderer first when put in that position. Four mana gain five life is awful. Even gaining three life and killing something isn't great at that price. If you do somehow get to kill two big threats with the Wanderer then that is great but good luck with that. I see that happening infrequently enough to be pretty irrelevant. This is a removal card primarily and not very good at doing so. It is super slow and clunky while also having severe restrictions on targetting. This might be a good sideboard tool against a big red deck but I don't even see that, it is not like white is short on things to hose red with...

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