Monday 3 June 2019

Modern Horizons: Preliminary Review Part XIII

Tectonic Reformation 6

Red gets yet another tool to dispose of excess lands (with Throes of Chaos being the other) and this one seems rather more rounded and playable. This is cheap enough to cycle itself that you are fine with it in a mana screw. It is cheap enough to deploy and allows for cheap enough land cycling that you are also most happy with this for any deck looking to go a little longer without a tonne of mana sinks. This is a fair card to say the least. It is always losing tempo and often losing card advantage. I feel like those are going to cost it enough that it won't see play in many decks despite being a really useful little tool. It is just a bit slow to provide the value you want. Red has enough looting and rummage effects now that are better than this in most cases that I expect to see this infrequently. More of a synergy card for use with Splendid Reclamation effects that a thing you just play to improve your late game.

Echo of Eons 4

While this is getting people rather excited I think it is a bit overrated. It is pretty hard to abuse this in modern. It is symmetrical, slow and always leaves you at a mana disadvantage compared to your opponent. While it is more impressive at 3 mana than at 6 that means both exiling it and getting it in the bin in the first place. This all chips away at this card relative to Time Twister, which itself is a touch overrated. Certainly it is a very powerful effect but you can only play it in decks built around abusing such things. When you take away the broken mana producers the value of a Twister plummets. I expect to see Time Spiral get much more play in cube than this. The scariest thing about this card is the new Narset! And really that is just because Narset is really scary. This neither replaces Time Spiral or Twister and is better than neither. Echo of Eons performs a somewhat different role and does have a place in cube play but it is fairly fringe. Commit // Memory feels like a better card overall in doing the role of this. EDH is a bit slower so I imagine it will be great there and other eternal formats can play multiple copies of Lion's Eye Diamond which is really the thing that makes this scary there. I am somewhat expecting one of those to get banned but I am no expert on those formats. Perhaps it is just fine, perhaps there is plenty of anti-storm and anti-graveyard stuff on the go there that this is fine with LED in the meta.

Hogaak, Arisen Necropolis 3

A little too demanding for your run of the mill drafting cube but outstanding in an appropriate list. Anything with a high dork count and good self mill and Hogaak is looking great. He reminds me of Scourge of Nel Toth. Both big finishers you can play from the bin at nicely low costs. Both need two dorks in play too! Convoke on a big threat is a little win more and delve in a self mill deck is often a big burden lowering things like unearth and turning off delirium. I like this a lot but in practice it is just redundancy at the top end for a tiny subset of archetypes. Cool card and cool design sufficiently that I will build around it a bit.

Unsettled Mariner 3.5

This will mostly wind up in tribal builds that have UW tempo components as well as the odd non-tribal UW tempo deck. Perhaps we will even see a Bant hatebears deck in which this would likely be a feature. While this is a reasonably annoying card it is not very threatening. If you make something actually threatening then it will get killed and the extra mana will get paid. It is not enough of a tax to deny all that much nor will it come up frequently enough to have been worth it. I think you want two or more extra payments from this before it can be considered to have done good work. The bear body really needs lords or equipment to get much done either. Either you over extend into mass removal or you are held off with a 2/3. Mostly I still prefer Kira to this. The disruption is much more meaningful and the body does more work. All told I prefer Spellskite and Thalia to this in most cases although we are moving further away in terms of comparable cards.

Defile 4

Hard to chose between this and Disfigure. This has lovely scaling while probably doing enough early most of the time. Disfigure however has a much more appealing floor and requires no extra support and consideration from your mana base. As it stands there has been a stark shift away from conditional cheap removal towards more reliable and costly options. That does not bode so well for either Defile or Disfigure! I don't see this making waves in any drafting cube nor even being that exciting in a mono black control deck. It will be good but not so good that it is a reason to be doing anything specifically for it!

Faerie Seer 5

Well this takes a huge dump on Augury Owl and Flying Man at the same time. This is a premium ninjitsu enabler and a fine one drop faerie you can use to fuel Spellstutter Sprite and Mistbind Clique. In singleton the big problem facing faeries is lack of good one drops and this plugs that hole very nicely. While this does a load of fantastic things in synergy decks I am still not sure it is doing quite enough to see much love in the drafting cube. It is probably just another Sigiled Starfish!

Universal Automaton 1.5

Another 1 drop faerie! Sadly a very below par one. I can't think of a tribe that is so desperate for one drops that this gets a look in but hard to fully rule it out of seeing any play at all. Cheap goes a very long way and this is clearly the cheapest way to get all the creature types!

Magmatic Sinkhole 3

This is sort of a Murderous Cut meets Hero's Downfall but made red. This kills most things and it will do so cheaply. Red is pretty good at filling up the bin too so it can be quickly as well. There are a few issues with this card however. One is that red loves to use the bin with lots of flashback cards and things that otherwise use it as fuel. Is that extra couple of damage worth the delay on usefulness, the extra resource and setup cost, or the lack of ability to target players compared to most burn? The answer to all of those has to be yes for it to make the cut and that just isn't going to be the case anywhere near enough in the drafting cube. Certainly there will be the odd deck you draft as well as plenty you could construct where this is ideal but most draft decks will just much prefer Searing Spears.

Geomancer's Gambit 2

This is basically Field of Ruin but translated into Stone Rain format. It is a low card cost way to deal with a non-basic land or a naughty way to punish basic land light mana bases. I like the idea of it with Flagstones of Trokair simply as a colour shifted Rampant Growth effect! Cute but hardly an abusive synergy. This is a useful card but in singleton it is not going get much action. In formats with few basic lands it is going to lend to some interesting new Conley Woods brews!

Ephemerate 4

Well this is very efficient indeed. Pair this with something simple like a Wall of Omens and you have yourself a very tidy little draw two for W. It is one of the few one off spells (technically a two off thanks to the rebound) I would consider running in a flicker deck due to how versatile and efficient it is. Obviously it can simply be held as a way to protect a card rather than just blown for whatever EtB value generators you have out. I fear white has too few good EtB effects to reliably abuse this in cube as well as better tools to protect dorks. As such I only really see this making it into constructed flicker decks. Still a big win for them.

Reap the Past 1

Part Braingyser and part Season's Past yet broadly worse than both. You need to be in Gruul and have a bin full of things you want and a bunch of mana before this is good. As such it is mostly just bad. Too powerful and unique to rule out. Recursion effects are not unlike tutor effects in singleton in that they are rarely absolutely unplayable. I would strongly consider this in a Niv-Mizzet Reborn deck for example. A card that only makes the cut in a meme deck because Gruul has so for suitable cards!

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