Friday 31 May 2019

Modern Horizons: Preliminary Review Part X

Weather the Storm 2.5

While certainly a superb counter to Grape Shot I don't really see where you are using this outside of a Bolas's Citadel deck. Now that I think about it this does also support Aetherflux Reservoir as well as Citadel but it is a bit win more in the latter. It probably just counts for 2-3 spells towards your getting to over 50. Eitherway, when you are generating storm it is about winning, not about gaining life. This will probably counter more combos than it ever manages to support which is at least nice. This is a safe card to print with storm on it which is both good and important. It will see fringe play in and against niche decks only.

Goblin Champion 3

This is surprisingly good but probably still not quite good enough. This is a 1/2 Raging Goblin on its own which is fairly well able to poke life totals down early in the game but unlike the Raging Goblin this continues to provide utility as the game goes on. Not only does t his let you freely and safely apply itself to combat but it lets you scale with better cards. The most notable being the new Krenko. That is exactly the kind of card I wish to become exalted! Even just first strike or some evasive keyword is good scaling though. This even gets around Ensnaring Bridges! The main issue this has is that the kind of decks that might want it tend to attack with more than one thing as the game goes on rendering this of less value. Still, as it one drop it doesn't have to do all that much to make the cut. This has an impressive blend of baseline playability and theme suitability combined with later game scaling and synergy to wind up in a bunch of places and do some decent work. I expect to see this in some goblins decks and potentially something like a Judith deck too. I think this is a similar sort of card to Foundry Street Denizen despite their opposed scaling.

Collector Ouphe 5

The green Kitaki, War's Wage. This is vastly more playable in cubes than Stony Silence or Null Rod. The legs make it a do something regardless of the matchup and the type makes it much more easily tutored for and put to task when needed. My relatively low artifact count combined with this cards low baseline power means this isn't enough for my drafting cube but most powered and other wise artifact heavy cubes will be able to support this no trouble at all. Great sideboard card and likely a more fun hoser to play against than the harder to remove card types that do much the same.

Spiteful Sliver 2

Some combo potentials here but for general use in a 40 card deck I don't think this is enough power or utility compared to other three drop slivers. As your deck size increases and your number of opponents does the same this would seem to improve rapidly.

Off-Colour Talisman 7.5

Lovely to finally have these after leaning on the Signets for so long. I expect some Signets will remain in the cube and retain a bunch of use all over the place but there is no getting away from the fact that these are a lot better functionally than Signets. These have been better than the Diamond cycle in mono coloured decks forever and so now the Diamonds are no better than fifth in line! The 10 Talisman will see the lion's share of the play for all kinds of use when it comes to two CMC mana rocks. Mind Stone and Chalice will not suffer quite as much as the Signets and will still be very popular despite still taking a hit. These are great ramp, great fixing, great artifact support and good power level. They will see a tonne of play, likely more than a load of cards I have rated higher. The Izzet one will absolutely see the most by a fair margin.

Yawgmoth, Thran Physician 7.5

Impressively pushed card that has appropriate flavour. Yawgmoth does not eclipse Urza but he is more playable in my 'creature heavy but unpowered low artifact count cube. I am always on the lookout for good sac outlets and Yawgmoth is certainly that. Free, repeatable, instant and with impressive payoffs too. Either card draw or -1/-1 counters is good, both is great. Protection from humans is fairly big, they are comfortably the most common tribe and have members across all the colours. Yawgmoth also has a discard outlet  although it is less exciting that the sac outlet. Discard tends to be something you lead with while sacrifice is more of and end of chain thing. As such being on a 4 drop is already bad, costing further mana makes it worse. Still, repeatable proliferate for BB which scales with the previous ability is still great. Yawgmoth empowers himself and a whole host of other cards. I expect he directly replaces Yahenni as a top of curve sac outlet with complete ease. Great generally when creature based and superb in Blood Artist decks. Very little bad about this.

String of Disappearances 5

Good blue version of Chain Lightning and despite the fairly direct translation across the balance on this is very impressive. Further to that the ability adds rather more to this card than it does for Chain Lightning. For the reasonable price of UUU you can bounce a thing of yours and a thing of theirs. Basically it is supremely unlikely that this is ever worse than Unsummon while often offering much more utility. Despite being better than Unsummon it is not by much. Vapor Snag is the competition and that will be harder to unseat. String is only going to be good when you are heavy blue and have a decent creature count. Vapor Snag is rather more consistently better than Unsummon, not so mention nicely on theme for most aggressive lists meaning this is getting very little action.

Segovian Angel 3

Better than a Suntail Hawk but not better than a Rustwing Falcon or a Healers Hawk! Vigilance is not that useful of an effect here. It is good with the flying but rather undercut by being a lowly 1/1. Best this gets to do is be annoying against 3/1 fliers without buffs. The thing is that you are playing buffs if you are playing this and so it probably does scale up faster than Rustwing. Not that relevant either as if you are playing this you are probably also looking to play all the other white one drop fliers that are better than Suntail Hawk! Low powered card but as a one drop with a theme it will see action in singleton.

Spell Snuff 0

A Cancel that turns into a cheap Dismiss when you are nearly dead. A lot better than Cancel but not enough better to be cube worthy. As it turns out I would rather play one of the scry 1 style counters out there if I am playing a three mana generic hard counter. While a lot less powerful than drawing with fateful hour you never get it early and often won't see it at all.

Ingenious Infiltrator 4

This is just a better Deep Hours effectively. The only real reason to play ninja's, or certainly more filler ones like this, is Yuriko. As such ninjas are very much a Dimir thing. As such this is just a Deep Hours with an extra toughness and a card draw that applies to the who tribe not just itself. I expect to see this in all tribal ninja decks going forwards. I wouldn't even be shocked to see this get some stand alone play. People do just love a ninja! Deep Hours gets love as a stand alone even if it is just in pauper!

Goblin Oriflame 2

Lovely how things go full circle. A misprint halved the cost of a banworthy card back in the day. Now we see it in print for real. This seems powerful but also narrow. I will likely just play things like Goblin Wardriver over this. It is only going in synergy decks and I don't rate it enough to merit hurting synergies when I could play dorks with these effects. Given how much better things like Honor the Pure are than this I can't see it making any impact at all in the drafting cube. I have played War Horn but only in blue decks that lack much access to these kinds of things. And even there it wasn't very impressive. Despite the lower cost, just being red makes this a lot less interesting than War Horn.

Tuesday 28 May 2019

Modern Horizons: Preliminary Review Part IX

Unbound Flourishing 2

Like a Doubling Season but for X costs rather than counters. Also a lot more affordable than Season but this is fine balance wise as X spells still scale with mana, even if the effect is doubled. Any abuses of this will still be mana intense. There isn't close to enough things in cube with X in them for this to be worth running. As a build around it seems a bit extreme too. I deck full of X spells and ramp sounds pretty awful and even if it is great when you have this that will not be all the time. This is a fun card but I am not convinced it is actually any good. Certainly it will do some good things but unless there is a combo I can't see this making it in any competitive formats. Presently Mana Bloom seems like one of the better uses for it and that is really just more of the same rather than an actual payoff. For abuses this seems significantly worse than Pyromancer's Goggles which are quite a fun gimmick card themselves. Feels like this will be EDH and not a lot more.

Springbloom Druid 4

Harrow on 1/1 legs. Much safer in fact as you cannot just Stone Rain yourself by walking into countermagic. Safer but sadly also much worse. The only reasons people play Harrow is that it is instant or that the lands come in untapped (so that it generates mana with a Mana Flare effect in play). Springbloom Druid does neither of these things. This is still mostly better than Farhaven Elf but that isn't the most impressive card to outclass. It is better because it fills up the bin and thins the deck. It is potentially better in that it can fix two colours for you or perhaps it even trigger a Flagstones of Trokair! It is worse because you need more basic lands in your lists to make it viable. With just a couple of basics in the build you will find yourself without enough remaining in the late game and that really hurts. I think this is fine, it will see play but it will be the tiniest of marginal differences from the many other cards that are like this. I still like a Wood Elf more than most of the alternatives including this one.

Archmage's Charm 7.5

Finally an all blue instant Divination although the triple blue cost is pretty hefty. Esper Charm feels easier to cast! This is no Cryptic Command but it is in that ballpark. It is powerful and versatile and heavy blue. They both can draw or counter things too I guess but that is where the two cards part ways in terms of similarities. Cryptic almost always has a Time Walk feel to it when it is used while this will never really feel like that nor will it be so samey regardless of modes. This cannot do a thing and retain card levels, either this costs a card and does a thing or it does nothing to the board and draws you cards. This is Cancel, Divination or Confiscate meets Isolate! Two supremely broad, different and synergic effects at a reasonable rate and a narrow situational one just to mix things up. That is a great starting point for a modal card, all the best charms have that kind of mix. It is not the mix or really even cost intensity or power levels that let this down relative to Cryptic. The main difference is that this offers three total modes while Cryptic affords six.

The mini Confiscate is arguably the most powerful mode in that it is disruptive removal that progresses your position. It gains tempo and value even it it is only a small amount. I see this stealing a lot of Deathrite Shamans, Swiftspears, Lavamancers, Birds of Paradise and Champions of the Parish! It is not too swingy but it is still swingy enough to make up for the narrowness. I can't see many decks that are able to play consistently not doing so. With Cryptic and Counterspell and such already making people have heavy blue mana bases I think this will slot in no trouble. It is harder to play than both Counterspell and Cryptic and so it will probably see less play than either but it shouldn't be far behind.

Orcish Hellraiser 5.5

This looks good on paper but I think it is going to perform a lot worse in practice. While the tempo on this is great the overall cost of the card leaves it below par. If this was just three mana it would have no hope really. So how best to consider the echo? Probably as it it was three mana and had haste. It isn't perfect but it is close enough. That makes it most comparable to Brazen Scourge which is just a bit bland and fair for cube. While this is still a bit better than Scourge it isn't by enough to swing it for cube use I don't think. In modern it is a bigger deal as burn decks want to support mana bases that don't go above two mana cards. I think the power level of modern is sufficiently high that this doesn't make it there either. Just a little bit clunky, vanilla and fair. It is a very clean design for a burn card. It is quite a punchy early threat but it can also just be a bad Rift Bolt when drawn late and having no chance of getting through. An updated Keldon Marauders in many ways. Better in most but not enough to be playable is my hunch, despite it being a very close affair.

Nature's Chant 3

A nice efficient way to include both Disenchant and Naturalize in your cubes. This is a reasonably fair card. A good but slightly too situational removal spell, for unpowered cubes at least. There are more powerful options and safer cards you can run over this so despite the space convenience of this it shouldn't be making the final cut in most cubes. As for sideboard play this has little hope. Being playable isn't a perk there and so more specific but more powerful cards will take it's slots. Despite getting a reasonable rating therefor I don't actually see this getting play in my cube.

Scuttling Sliver 2

Feels like there is going to be some messy combos with this when they print the Priest of Titania and Gaea's Cradle Slivers... Without abuses however this card is nothing to get excited about. Too slow for 1v1 unless combo abuses.

Lesser Masticore 4

This seems fantastic but also a bit awkward. I like a lot of the elements of this card but still have no idea where I might play it. Bant colour decks will all appreciate the ping and the resilient low end dork. None however will appreciate the two for one cost on playing this nor the high mana intensity required to make it good. Bant is least able to take advantage of discard as well. An aggressive black deck however can easily negative the extra cost of this with things like Bloodghast. There is an element of Walking Ballista to this card as it comes out at two mana and pings for four. Ballista is far better of a card and removal tool but this has more utility and staying power. If you are flush with mana and your opponent needs to win with small creatures they are going to need to kill this twice or find some exile way to deal with it. The persist does a reasonable job of negating the discard cost, as does having things like the Bloodghast. You can however just use things like Aether Vial or Goblin Engineer to bypass it altogether. My best guess is that this will see play as a cheap and easy to cast persist card, discard outlet, mana sink, and colourless removal tool. Sadly just not all that often as it is a bit aimless, fiddly and low powered. If you could hit face with the ping then it would be a win condition in a lot of infinite mana decks but it isn't so...

Sword of Truth and Justice 4

One of my least favourite cycles (Swords) meets one of my favourite mechanics! I like the interplay between the two effects on this Sword and I like the scaling potential. In practice however this is a fairly low powered Sword. Broadly speaking the protection values across the colours are similar. Certainly it makes a lot of difference matchup to matchup but overall it is surprisingly close. There are far more green creatures than blue ones but then there are far more blue effects that target creatures and green has ways to deal with artifacts etc. I would actually consider protection from white slightly less valuable than the blue right at this point in time but I think this sort of discussion is more of an article and not an aside in a card review! Top 8 protections now in the works... So with the protection abilities all being fairly close the power difference is down to the triggers which are just not all that exciting. You get no card advantage from it nor does it do much in the way of disruption. Without other creatures you are just growing the Sword wielder which is very all in on one card and begs to get blown out with the right answer. This card is powerful but not enough to compete with the other good swords. Power was never really the issue with Swords either, it is how slow and easily disrupted they are that is the issue and Truth and Justice is exactly as bad as all the others for that.

Sword of Sinew and Steel 6

This is a fairly dull Sword but it is probably one of the more effective ones on offer. It doesn't always generate card advantage but when it does it also disrupts and generates tempo. Sinew and Steel has good removal options and more freedom to go face when combating planeswalkers than other Swords. Sinew and Steel can offer some pretty extreme swings in the game, more so than most Swords and more frequently as well. Based on the utility of this card I would probably consider it at least as a half removal spell provided I have some evasive dorks, some resilient ones, and enough overall. That makes this more playable than some of the alternatives. This is probably the 3rd best Sword for cube use after Fire and Ice and Body and Mind. Fire and Ice is less swingy but the value is more reliable. Body and Mind is just too tedious in 40 card lists and no fun, even for a Sword, and so I don't use it despite the power. Given that I think there is room for two Swords in a cube I will give this a go to take that second slot. Feast and Famine proved too inconsistently useful and War and Peace wasn't rounded enough bringing no value component to the table. I wonder if and when we will see the final three Swords in this slow epic release cycle!?

Monday 27 May 2019

Modern Horizons: Preliminary Review Part VIII

Hollowhead Sliver 2

As a stand alone this is a lot better than Rummaging Goblin. Red looting has come far enough now that being better than the Goblin is not enough to get you play. I am playing a card like 3 mana Sarkhan over this when not tribe-bound. This still seems like it is only making it in a Sliver deck and probably not all that many of those. It is just a bit slow and fair for what is usually a pretty aggressive tribe.

Winds of Abandon 8

Settle the Wreckage meets Declaration in Stone meets Mizzium Mortars. This isn't a great spot removal spell nor is it a great mass removal spell. Despite being a one sided Wrath it is still slow. Luckily it is passable in both modes and those two kinds of effect pair up incredibly nicely resulting in a great card out of two mediocre halves. This kills anything, it is cheap to do and is exile quality. It ticks enough boxes to be a solid spot removal card on a very similar power level to Dec in Stone. It is a great control card and a midrange dream. Aggro decks will be fine to play it as well. I can see it making it into lists over Swords to Plowshares in some aggressive decks. This will be in most white EDH decks and a lot of white cube decks.

Hexdrinker 7.5

Well this is great all over. It is a 2/1 for one which is already making it one of the best green stand alone aggressive one drops on offer. Then you can scale it up into a mini Progenitus over time. While 9 mana is a lot it is both 8G (rather than WWUUBBRRGG!) and can be split over as many turns as you like. It also has a fairly decent mid level stop off. A four mana 4/4 with protection from instants is cute. It lets you threaten the final level undisrupted and forces opponents into preemptive removal. A four mana 4/4 is also a great deal when it has pseudo haste and likely did a couple of turns work as a 2/1 before all that. This is a great card early, mid and late. It isn't excessively mana efficient but likely more so than most level up style creatures. It is also a lot more convenient that most others as well. Given how cleanly this levels up you can have this in final mode attacking on turn four with only three lands and nothing else. Of the hands I can imagine winning that are only four cards this and three lands feels like it is very much one of the better options. That start will goldfish by turn six and really tax answers. If you are on the play they only have one and two drops to deal with a 2/1. Three mana to deal with a 4/4 pro-instants and then they can only deal with it with a mass removal spell, they can't even block. This card needs to be respected. It will steal a lot of games where it isn't. I can imagine a lot of people having to blow good removal on this ahead of time for fear it will ultimate and just win. Like Fleecemane Lion but substantially better.

Plague Engineer 8

A nicely fixed Engineered Plague which was always a tedious and brutal sideboard card but not something worth playing main. This is comparably brutal but is entirely playable main. It will do a good impression of Plague Mare while having a better body and some potentially ruinous ongoing effects on the game if not removed. The deathtouch ensures you will get more value out of this beyond the initial death of things it forces. It will either trade with a bigger dork or bait removal. I see this killing swathes of thopter tokens, spirit tokens, goblin tokens and soldier tokens. I see it killing loads of elves and humans too. Plaguemare has been a huge addition to cube. This is easier to play and splash and is also more powerful. It is far fairer than the namesake enchantment as more decks will be more able to deal with it if they need to and in a prompt manner. Scary card but reasonably well considered.

King of the Pride 3.5

Quite a flimsy lord being both 3 mana and 1 toughness however a +2 attack bonus is terrifying. As Undead Warchief, Tempered Steel or just a good old Dictate of Heliod informs, you need very little time or board with a +2 power buff to close out a game. Cats, unlike bears, have a decent number of other supporting cards as well as a healthy pile of decent power level cards to build with. What is especially rare is that cats have more top notch one drops than almost any other tribe. Humans, elves, and goblins are the only ones that seem to outclass them but it is fairly close. Considering they are also some of the bigger tribes in the game each with over double the number of members than cats it is all impressive. Anyway. this is a good lord. Vulnerable but well worth it. It puts cats on the map. Now we just need a cat that protects. Leonin Rune Giver....?

Fallen Shinobi 6.5

This seems pretty mental. It is very easy to get the first hit in with a ninja if you want to. You have to be aggro, tempo or midrange but that is fine. This offers enough punch for low enough mana that one hit could well be all you need. On average you are hitting a land and like a two or three drop. That is good already but the high roll is just filth. If you get a planeswalker and anything else close to useful the game is over. A lot of combo and control decks will fold to hitting some specific cards even if they don't help you that much. Even on a total wiff you still have a 5/4 dork in play that they cannot afford to have hit them. You probably have something nice back in hand like a Baleful Strix or Kitesail Freebooter ready to reuse that EtB effect as well. Even just playing this for 5 mana isn't terrible, the stats are OK and the threat is super high. Basically the floor on this card is pretty decent, the ceiling is game winning and the average performance should sit reasonably far off the floor as well. More gold than I would like but cards like this are devastatingly powerful in cube. No one likes having their cards used against them! It is grueling and more powerful than you would expect. The only thing against this card is that it is hard to include in lists.

Wrenn and Six 7.5

I was expecting our second go at a two mana walker to come in War of the Spark but I guess it makes rather more sense here. This certainly dumps all over two mana Tibalt and sets a very different bar for a two drop walker. The loyalty count is decent as are all three abilities. Wrenn and Six has better self protection than a lot of planeswalkers, not just two mana ones. If the -1 can't deal with the threats then the +1 should at least put it out of reach of an easy death. The +1 is fairly impressive value as well. It is straight up putting cards in your hand. It works very nicely with the new Horizon Canopy lands, sac lands, cycling lands, any looting or self mill etc etc. While it isn't great odds on being a card on turn two those odds will increase significantly over the course of a game. I feel like this is either a slow Arc Trail or a more threatening Ramunap Excavator. Or indeed a mix of both. The ultimate is no joke either, you do have to deal with Wrenn and Six else you are just going to eat endless Lightning Bolts from the bin and die to it. This has a lot of power and utility yet somehow isn't oppressive seeming. It will be when you have a white weenie hand with three 2/1 dorks in it! Even then if you are on the play you are only going one for one and trading a mana for two life. I think this is a fine card for any deck to run. It is probably even fine in many of the combo decks that can play it! Mostly I mean it is good in aggro all the way through to control. Powerful, enticing, yet seemingly quite fair. I think while it does good stuff for two mana it is slower to do it than other two mana effects and it quickly loses power in a relative sense compared to other planeswalkers. By turn five and six what this does when you flop it out isn't going to produce a massive swing on the game.

Sling-Gang Lieutenant 6.5

This is fairly impressive all round. It is decent in it's own right but it is exceptional in two different kinds of synergy deck. It will shine both in goblin decks and in aristocrat Blood Artist decks. It is one of the biggest pulls to black on the goblin tribe with Patriarch's Bidding being the only other contender really. Frogtossers are all well and good but it is a fairly low key support card that rarely finds room these days. This however is a lot of bodies plus an on-theme sac outlet that will really help to get players dead. This is reach, utility, value and oozing with synergies and scaling options.

Farmstead Gleaner 2

Pretty shocking card but it is at least able to grow indefinitely with a Grand Architect in play so some redundancy for Pili-Pala combos of sorts.

Sunday 26 May 2019

Modern Horizons: Preliminary Review Part VII

Splicer's Skill 2

A fascinating card with a nicely relevant take on the old splice mechanic. This isn't good baseline making a 3/3 token for three and at sorcery speed. While weak it is still fine, it is better than doing nothing and is both proactive and defensive as required. Splicer's Skill is also not at all cheap when it comes to using it for value. The cost goes up to 4 mana and you have to be paying for your other cards as well. That means you need to be at five mana before this springs into action (short of Gitaxian Probe) at which point it is not packing enough punch for that stage of the game. It is not until you have spare mana in the late game that this really gets exciting and by then you should be out of spells to splice onto. I like this a lot and wish it was a little more playable. I like how it is instant if you splice it onto instants. Sadly it just seems like it is win more in the late game and very low powered before then. Nice at least that it is value in white I guess.

Changeling Outcast 3

Unblockable one drop that is any tribe you like is going to see some play. It might just be with Yuriko but I suspect it will find some other cute places to hang out. Low powered card but a good supporting potential for a wide array of things.

Generous Gift 2

Much as I love a colour shifted card this is pretty unexciting even if it is thematically appropriate for the new colour. And apparently more card style word play. White is all very Afterlife and Cradle Snatch after all! The problem is, white is not hard done for removal cards for any kind of permanent and so this is just a bad card in white. At two mana we might be interested but at three this is just a bad Oblivion Ring, Vindicate, Councils Judgement, Oblation, etc. It has hitting lands and being instant going for it and you might want to support something like Oath of Druids so this will see some fringe use but only in quite specific cases. For general use this is garbage and outclassed by much.

Ayula, Queen Among Bears 2

Well, this is one of the most impressive lord style cards I have ever seen. The issue this card has is that there are very few bear cards and no other bears matter cards. You are not playing a deck full of literal Grisly Bears just so that this card is a bomb. I would presently struggle to build a 40 card bear deck in singleton. It would likely have more changelings in it than actual bears... At least we have Ayula's Influence which is a good bear producer. While the best thing I can see to do with Ayula presently it is still entirely just a win more combo. I can't see this doing much anywhere but absolutely one to keep an eye one. We will not need much more bears and bears matter cards for this to be playable and when it is it will be all sorts of good.

Mother Bear 2

Probably the best proper bear bear! Three in one bears with a good split and spread of costs. While not as powerful by any means this does remind me of Growth Chamber Guardian. Both early plays with some value later on. Like updated (and thus playable) Call of the Herd cards. This has some nice self mill and discard synergies as well. A nicely rounded card that is really just a bit fair for what you want to do in cube. It is so very much in the middle of a tempo card and a value card that is actually winds up not being too exciting for either role.

Bazaar Trademage 4

A super interesting enabler that even just has potential as a beater. A three mana 3/4 flier is a really solid thing in blue and consistently performs in blue aggro and midrange lists. It is even good by the standards of dorks in other colours. Paying a life a turn is a much lower cost than losing a card right away but Trademage isn't just discarding you a card. Even with no synergy at all it is a big pile of premium card quality in addition to that loss of card advantage. And no decks have no synergy with such things any more. Everyone has flashback and delve and delirium and so forth on the go. This is going to empower some things for you, perhaps minor, perhaps major. It is going to also provide card quality and be a huge dork in play. I think it is probably a bit too hard to reach the top ends of performance on the discard in a draft setting and in a general setting the risk of this card will be too great compared to what it offers. This is the true Careful Study on legs as it actually has card disadvantage unlike Champion of Wits. It is a good deal at that being a Study and then a 3/4 flier for the remaining two mana. Still, you have to really want Careful Study to play it and most of the decks want it for quicker things or at least not things that mesh brilliantly with meaty mid level dorks. This will see a bunch of play but in synergy builds rather that limited decks.

Feaster of Fools 3

A really elegant combination of keywords. Tap them all then eat them all! Have six dorks in play including two black and one Blood Artist. Cast this for free, sac everything, deal six and have a 15/15 in play. Have a way to give haste and win with a lot of damage! This does some cool things but the payoff of a single fat flier is a bit dull and hard to use. It needs that haste giver to give it the punch you want which isn't making it all that good of a finisher. It is probably a little to slow and clunky for general use too. High powered and close to the mark. Certainly very capable of winning a lot of games. Just a bit cold to spot removal nor a big fan of bounce.

Mox Tantalite 8

This is pretty huge. It is not as abusive as Lotus Bloom but I feel like it is way more playable. Considering how good Search for Tomorrow is I expect this to get a lot of love in cube. Basically you pay one less to suspend and have to wait one turn longer on the arrival. You don't pull lands out of the deck but you get a better fixer, don't have to include basics and you get artifact synergies. This ramps to five rather than to four which makes it a less less appealing for aggro decks but control and midrange will be all over this. Especially non-green lists. It is a ramp card that costs nothing in mana and is a clean 1 for 1. It is just going to be like a really good land in a lot of places. Waiting three turns for your land is certainly not nothing, it is a big deal and a long wait and as such is only something the slower decks will be up for. That and the decks that can abuse this based on the suspend cost such as As Foretold or the new Goblin Welder. Kind of feels like this should have been a legendary. Some combo decks and many slower decks will look to play this in cube and in modern I expect as well. I think it is nice and fair but I wish it had been a legendary if just as a mild attempt to keep the price on it a little calmer.

Cloudshredder Sliver 3.5

About as good as it gets for a sliver deck, this is two of the best keywords you can have and it is pleasantly cheap as well.

Force of Rage 7.5

Another card very alike to Ball Lightning. Broadly this seems better in a number of ways. The only drawbacks I can think of are type based and the way red aggro is presently it has a big preference for instants and sorceries over creatures. So this is mostly making a pair of 3/1 one shot dorks. It is all of a Hellspark Elemental in one go and at a mana less. Compared to Ball Lightning it is easier to (hard) cast. Has an extra body and an extra toughness allowing it to push damage through more effectively and reliably and even split it if desired. It is also two bodies which benefits all the many scaling cards like Purphoros and sac outles like Goblin Bombardment. These are only the aggressive perks too. On defense this can be a pair of zero mana Bolts on dorks. You can block two things or a big thing and do some surprise trading. The red decks you would play this in are not all about the blocking but it is certainly a powerful ability to have tagged on and it will come up often enough in cube. Racing a red deck is going to be harder than ever.

Saturday 25 May 2019

Modern Horizons: Preliminary Review Part VI

Ranger-Captain of Eos 7.5

This is better than the non captain version for cube. What they do is better suited to a three drop than a four drop. It is also much higher tempo being a mana less and having a toughness more. I am really not sure how to evaluate the sac ability in cube. In modern it has some really powerful applications, particularly in creature based combo decks. It is still a Time Walk against a lot of decks in the meta and backing up something as powerful as humans you can easily afford to toss this guy away just to avoid that Verdict or Ugin another turn. In cube tossing away the 3/3 is tossing away the more significant part of the card. You either need a massive read, actual info, or an otherwise hard to lose from position for it to be something you want to use. I guess it is nice just as a sac outlet that can fizzle things! That might be worth as much as what it actually does! So how good is a 3/3 for three that tutors up a one drop dork in a draft setting? Really good I would say. It is not quite as much tempo as a Blade Splicer but it has a lot of bonus perks. It is still a good flicker target although not quite as good as Splicer it is still enough. What it does do is offer deck thinning, actual physical cards in hand rather than token-locked value, and of course the options on whatever one drops you have. This might well be a problem for some control and the odd midrange deck but it will absolutely be massive for the aggressive decks. You can get tappers, pingers, card draw, fliers, protectors, things that can grow massive, things with protection from some random stuff, things that become planeswalkers! This card is decent utility, reasonable tempo and good value. As long as you have at least four or so targets this will be a great card in any sort of deck. It will probably crop up in loads of synergy builds too. A whole lot more bang for your buck than Militia Bugler! You lose a lot of the utility as most of modern humans is 2 CMC dorks and higher but you gain consistency and tempo. It will be interesting to see how humans lists use this. Is it so much better than Bugler that they start playing the odd utility one drop to find? It is certainly quite possible.

Scrapyard Recombiner 2

I am not sure where you play this or why. Sure, it finds a lot of the cards in affinity and it even looks like it has synergy with them but it really doesn't have synergy with the game plan of that archetype. This is a 3 mana 2/2 with a tap ability. Of which the best target is probably a two mana 1/1 with another tap ability! Affinity is not about what this card is doing. This is a tutor effect and it does offer some useful interactions and synergies so I am sure it will see play somewhere some how but I expect it is much more likely in some EDH combo brew than draft cubes or modern!

Etchings of the Chosen 3

A very potent tribal creature Anthem. The issue this has is that it is gold which really reduces the number of tribes that would be interested in it. Forty card decks are getting a little past needing this like this to get it done too. You can usually get lower cost or some legs on your lords these days! The sac ability is really nice with this and means it has much more allure than a body. It gives utility in most situations and protects you against most of the mass removal spells which are your biggest counter. Really it is just coming back to the gold issue. Warriors? Vampires? Humans? Zombies? Spirits? All are tribes that can run this but none of them feel like they are desperate for it. Warriors and humans are the ones most susceptible to a mass removal spell so they are probably the most likely to dabble with this.

Good-Fortune Unicorn 2

Powerful effect but on a gold Grey Ogre. Not really getting it done short of combo enabling with persist dorks. Given the Neoform effects around now a 3 mana Melira is going to be a perk to those kinds of combo deck in modern.

Frostwalk Bastion 5.5

About right on the power level. This is good but not amazing. There are better aggressive options but this has some bonus utility, hardiness and it is snow allowing it to fit in with some synergy lists better.

Sisay, Weatherlight Captain 1

A premium cheap commander that allows for unrestricted colour access. She even has a highly desirable tutor element making her tick yet more exciting boxes for the EDH community. For cube Sisay has very little application. She is too hard to get anywhere near big enough to be a good threat. I am not even sure a vanilla 7/7 for 2W would be all that impressive in cube and that is the super unlikely ceiling of Sisay. Five mana of all the colours is hard to get and very expensive. For it only to tutor up a (probably) small legendary card seems supremely turdy. I want my payoff for having WUBRG to be Door to Nothingness levels!

Worthy Soldier 0

A low activation cost tapper that is hardy. Sadly it is very gimped by needing you to have creatures EtB to do anything. It makes it too unreliable for a low mana support tool. You need flash dorks to make this defensively useful too which is even more damning for the card.

Ayula's Influence 6

A green take on the classic Seismic Assault. Alternatively a green Zombie Infestation of sorts. While the original red take is better it is not by very much. It is better because it can kill on the spot, players, planeswalkers and creatures as required. This still does a great job of killing players and planeswalkers, and even ground based attacking creatures! It is just a little slower and a little more able to be interacted with. This card also has two very significant perks over Seismic Assault as well. Firstly it is green, the colour of Life from the Loam and a pile of other great land recursion tools. Green being the colour of fixing as well means you can keep everything in house or simply be base green and splash for other things you might want. Assault decks so often have the dirtiest looking mana bases full of filter lands just to have a chance at casting all the things. The other perk this has over Assault is efficiency. You can flop this out on turn three and just chuck whatever lands out you have in hand and draw over the next few turns and that will get there a lot of the time. Over a few turns a discarded land 2/2 bear token represents a lot more damage than a simple Shock. A turn three Assault often does nothing until much much later in the game. This, a mana Elf and five lands is a really strong hand, swap this for Assault and it would not be so good. Four lands and a Life from the Loam is probably even better with this! That probably wins with nothing else and pretty quickly. You could have 7 power in play on turn two, attack for six the next turn and make another 6/6 of stats to win on turn four. Scary stuff. Mass removal does little to stop it what with the tokens coming out at end of turn. Also mass removal is unlikely to remove the Influence or disrupt the Life from the Loam shenanigans. This seems like a great build around card as well as something you can probably just run in most mono green decks with minimal support. Still perhaps on the narrow side for a draft cube but easily going to get attention comparable to Seismic going forwards.

Ravenous Giant 0

Cute, a red Juzzam. And just as unplayable.

Glacial Revelation 2.5

This will see some fringe play as it is very powerful in the right setting. With enough snow-covered basics in your list combined with a few relevant non-land snow permanents you are after and this suddenly becomes a very efficient draw spell. It fills up the bin as well making it have some potential application as a bigger Satyr Wayfinder / Mulch type affair. Three is a lot for a digging card draw tool though meaning this is only seeing play in the most suitable places which will be pretty exotic. Powerful but presently not quite as supported as it wants to be.

Umezawa's Charm 2

This seems like one of the first cards to be underpowered in this set and it isn't by all that much. Certainly at one mana this card would be quite impressive. A good combat trick, a bit of utility removal or a spot of life for emergencies. The life mode is poor but it can translate into two cards in a lot of different ways for black. Sadly at two mana this just feels a bit too unexciting. The combat trick is low tempo, the removal very low tempo, and against control and combo the card seems like it will be dead far too often.