Thursday 29 August 2019

Niv-Mizzet Reborn .dec

Niv-Mizzet RebornWhen I first saw Niv-Mizzet Reborn I was pretty hooked. While I knew it was no drafting cube card nor even that viable for any of the cube constructed formats I was suckered in by the cool design challenge it posed and spent many an hour theorizing about it. I wanted to maximize the trigger which outlined a fairly defined deck structure of even split two colour gold cards. It all felt very much like a novelty joke deck but that didn't stop it being intriguing. It isn't viable for draft as you cannot hope to get the right ratios while also making a sensible deck and mana base. It isn't great for constructed cube either as you want all the best lands and that is pretty hard to fight everyone else at the table for. Commander and apparently modern are the places best suited to Niv.

I had two main plans for my cube build, a control list and a midrange one. Both had the same mana base and ratios of cards. Both were 16 land and 24 spells of which there were exactly two of each Guild pairing so an average Niv trigger would draw around five cards. Both decks looked very similar with many of the same spells as well as structure. The control had less creatures and more mass removal and counter magic but that is all. I ended up doing the midrange list first as I wanted to play Hero of Precinct One!

Hero of Precinct OneWhile playing the games I very quickly realized I had wildly underestimated the power of Niv. Turns out you don't need to get anywhere near five cards drawn on average for the card to be absolutely nuts! Pretty obvious in hindsight... the old five mana 6/6 flyer with upside. You could slash the number of targets to 20% and the card would still be very strong. You don't need an even split five colour deck with over half you cards gold. You can build a three colour deck and splash in the Niv. You really can do whatever you want. As you move away from drawing roughly five cards on average you greatly increase the freedom on the deck and thus what kind of thing you can do. Drawing two or three cards on average is effectively as game winning as five cards when a lot of what you did was also make a huge dragon. Niv is nuts and I can totally appreciate how he is able to compete in modern. Now that I know he is not just a card for memes and how flexible you can be with him I will absolutely be doing more brewing with the card. Here is the midrange list I learned all this with. It didn't drop a game.

Safewright Quest
24 Spells

Mox Diamond

Safewright Quest
Deathrite Shaman
Birds of Paradise

Hero of Precinct One
Eladamri's Call
Lightning Helix
Fire / Ice

Arngarth's Rampage
Lim-Dul's Vault
CastigateGrowth Spiral

Coiling Oracle
Dovin's Veto

Pernicious Deed
Kolagahn's Command

Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Teferi, Time Raveler

Huntsmaster of the Fells
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Hostage Taker

Niv-Mizzet Reborn

16 Lands

Lots of Sacs, Shocks and Duals!

Vivid CragWhen testing this I had a very greedy mana base with four sac lands and a near full complement of exactly the sacs and shocks I wanted. I figured the deck would just be too clunky and slow without but in hindsight it would have worked absolutely fine just packing some Vivid lands and cobbling together whatever else you can. Essentially you could well do this deck in a rotisserie setting, only fight a little on lands and still have a really good deck. You could do this for an even split five colour deck or you could have an even easier time of the draft, get more of the premium lands you want and increase your overall consistency by aiming at a three colour list with a double splash. My underrating of Niv and over estimating how much you needed to support him made me over compensate in all areas including mana base. The assumption that was needed led me to believe the deck would be inflexible and infrequently viable all of which is untrue.

The game play is very simple. You cast your high powered gold cards and just survive and ramp through the early game. This is pretty easy as your spells are so good. Then you cast one of your game winning bombs and it continues to be easy mode. The only thing I found even slightly difficult about playing this list was using sac lands. I repeatedly hit seven cards with Niv averaging over six as a result, somewhere between turn four and five as well. It felt impossible to lose at that point. Your opponent knows it as well when you go to discard and drop things like Helix they have targets for or just top end power you can cast. Very demoralizing for your opponent!

Firewild BorderpostOf the brews I do in cube format this is easily one of the best to translate into commander. Always having your Niv is amazing. There is no real shortage on power in the gold card area either. You can just scale the whole thing up by 250% and run 40 lands, 5 gold cards from each guild and have ten spare slots left over too. The only awkward thing is that you want a lot of ramp in commander and there is less of that in the gold department. You likely have to play a set of Borderposts and use up a number of your free slots to arrive at a sensible looking list. The main issue for this as a commander deck is that you do rather more want the full set of ten of each dual, shock and sac land within your mana base which is several thousand pounds worth of lands.

There is not much more to say on the playing of this list. It is just bomb cards that are pretty self explanatory. The interesting part was in the theory and building. It is a fun shuffle swapping around cards. Normally you can have your ratios correct and then just swap like for like so as to get the best curve or synergies. In this build the shuffle often goes off on a chain event as you need to upset the balance in other guilds. Swap a Voidslime for a Dovin's Veto and now we need to find a Simic replacement for the Azorius card we took out. This is hard to do directly and involves large reshuffles to accommodate what initially felt like a small change.

In designing this list I scoured the guilds for all the cards I might want to run in such a thing. They are listed below within their colour pairs. Sadly I am not very familiar with the more powerful top end cards in commander and only listed the cards that are good in heads up play. As such I wouldn't use this as an exclusive list to build a decent multiplayer list with. It is certainly a good place top start you off with and should cover a lot of your low end. That being said, EDHREC is clearly the go to resource for things you should be looking at for your Niv commander deck and was certainly a big help for me in my design process.

Casualties of War


Deathrite Shaman
Pernicious Deed
Find // Finality
Maelstrom Pulse
Assasin's Trophy
Abrupt Decay
Vraska, Golgari Queen
Golgari Charm
Vraska, Relic Seeker
Casualties of War
Meren of Clan Nel Toth

Bring to Light


Growth Spiral
Coiling Oracle
Nissa, Steward of Elements
Hydriod Krasis
Incubation // Incongruity
Reason // Believe
Bring to Light
Mystic Snake



Angrarth's Rampage
Kolaghan's Command
Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast
Olivia Voldaren

Supreme VerdictAzorius

Render Silent
Dovin's Veto
Supreme Verdict
Teferi, Hero of Dominaria
Teferi, Time Raveler
Time Wipe
Ojutai's Command
Azorius Charm
Depose // Deploy
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV

Knight of AutumnSelesnya

Safewright Quest
Eladamri's Call
Knight of Autumn
Qasali Pridemage
Kitchen Finks
Voice of Resurgence
Selesnya Charm
Dromoka's Command


UndermineBaleful Strix
The Scarab God
Hostage Taker
Lim-Dul's Vault
Thought Erasure
Thief of Sanity
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Discovery // Dispersal
Silumgar's Command
Dimir Charm


Kaya, Orzhov UsurperCastigate
Gerrard's Verdict
Tidehollow Sculler
Sin Collector
Utter End
Consecrate // Consume
Anguished Unmaking
Kaya's Wrath
Kaya, Ghost Assassin
Kaya, Orzhov Usurper
Oath of Kaya
Merciless Eviction
Sorin, Grim Nemeis
Kaya's Guile

Keranos, God of StormsIzzet

Ral's Outburst
Ral, Storm's Conduit
Dack Fayden
Fire / Ice
Izzet Charm
Keranos, God of the Storm

Deafening ClarionBoros

Lightning Helix
Warleader's Helix
Nahiri, the Harbinger
Heartfelt Redemption
Solar Blaze
Deafening Clarion
Wear / Tear
Ajani Vengent
Assemble the Legion


Domri, Anarch of Bolas
Fossil Find
Reap the PastManamorphose
Reap the Past
Wrenn and Six
Wild Cantor
Branching Vines
Hull Breach
Bloodbraid Elf
Huntsmaster of the Fells
Assualt // Battery
Struggle // Survive

Urza's FilterUnguilded

Tome of the Guildpact
Firemind Vessel
Mox Tantalite
Hero of Precinct One
Noble Hierarch
Pillar of the Paranus
Urza's Filter

Thursday 22 August 2019

Colossus Hammer .dec

Colossus Hammer
I am always excited to see a new combo deck become viable. Especially when it is based in the most boring colour! I obviously built my first iteration of this list as a mono white deck despite it clearly being better with more colours. There are just so many good options on the other colours that I thought I would keep it simple and learn before trying to figure out which other colour will offer the best support. The mono white build performed impressively well. It was capable of brutally quick wins and it was more robust than expected. It could handle getting past things in play as well as a bit of disruption well. The extreme low cost of things allowed you to play it safe while your opponent only has one option at best due to mana constraints. Decks with heavy disruption will very much beat this if you get to the midgame but it turns out that is hard for them to do. Decks without the right kinds of disruption will just fold whenever you are ready to win. This made it feel more like playing a combo deck than usual in cube. Here is the list I played;

Sigarda's Aid27 Spells

Paradise Mantle
Mishra's Bauble
Urza's Buable
Mox Opal

Phyrexian Walker

Colossus Hammer
Sigarda's Aid
Steelshaper's Gift
Kor Duelist

Giver of Runes
Conjurer's Bauble
Enlightened Tutor
Kor Duelist
Signal Pest
Masterwork of Ingenuity
Springleaf Drum

Thraben Inspector
God's Willing

Kor Outfitter
Puresteel Paladin
Stoneforge Mystic
Apostle's Blessing

Leonin Squire

Sword of Fire and Ice

13 Lands

8 Plains
Inkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth Nexus
Ancient Den
Darksteel Citadel
Buried Ruin

Puresteel PaladinThere were a lot of things I wanted to play in the mono white version but needed cutting for space reasons. Usually a pretty good sign a deck is going to be viable when you have more than you want for your list pulled out. It does mean that adding in that second colour will be a little trickier, especially as I have not fully worked out what my preferred choice is. The core of the deck are the following cards;

Colossus Hammer
Sigarda's Aid
Steelshaper's Gift
Kor Duelist
Enlightened Tutor

Kor Outfitter
Puresteel Paladin
Stoneforge Mystic

Steelshaper's GiftThese are your optimal combo, the most efficient things to find your combo cards, and some of the things that back up the combo. You have more options in most of the areas but they start to get worse rather rapidly. With one of the main strengths this deck has being speed you are not really looking to find redundancy that is too much slower. The main defining factor in the rest of the build after these key cards was a desire to ensure Puresteel Paladin would have metalcraft. When a big part of your plan is to cheat on equip costs Puresteel is not just one of the good options but also one of the less abundant parts of the combo. Given I was not red and thus not having access to Magnetic Theft in this list I really needed my Puresteel to be reliable. As such I went pretty heavy on the artifact synergies. For the most part it was a good plan, it allowed for some more explosive mana which plays into the speed plan. It allowed Inkmoth Nexus to be my second best threat despite effectively costing two mana to attack with it. It is certainly the 9th card I would add to the list above in hindsight.

Masterwork of IngenuityThere was an interesting dynamic between the choice of doublestrike threats, infect ones, or just making a 2nd copy of the Hammer. The last option is least good but it is still something you want due to the number of utility dorks you are playing that have neither infect nor doublestrike. It is also works with the 0 mana artifact creatures best and those are nice things to have in the list for a variety of other support reasons. Both Ornithopter and Phyrexian Walker did good work turning things on, producing mana and getting stuck in. Flying is still really good in combination with Sigarda's Aid as you can flash in the Hammers once they have not blocked. Another reason Inkmoth was such a strong threat. As for cards you can one shot with they typically have issues with being too slow, too easily blocked, or killed. There are a bunch of two mana infect and doublestrike dorks on offer but they are generally one toughness and no evasion. Necropede got a pass as it is utility and synergy offering a touch of removal and being an artifact. It was fine at best. Arguably Plague Myr could also have a pass on this front but it just feels a bit slow to be interesting as ramp. All the other two mana one shot threats got cut. I much prefer the cards that give such things so as to assist your other utility dorks. Silverblade Paladin and even Ajani, Caller of the Pride got looked at. Obviously I canned the Ajani as soon as I remembered the flying didn't help a lot of the time. Mirran Crusader would be the kind of card I would play over Adorned Pouncer. The extra mana is slow and awkward but it is so much hardier and better at the job. Unfortunately Crusader is all a bit randomly good based on what colours you face. I should have been running it, likely over the Leonin Squire.

You may notice Mother of Runes is out and Giver is in. Turns out you are reasonably happy if they use removal not on your equipped cards so Giver not protecting herself is not a biggy. Being able to go past way more things is pretty important. Protection giving spells are especially juicy as they are harder to play around and often quicker. There is likely only room for 3 protection giving cards in the deck and I ended up leaning towards spells. Not sure it is right but it doesn't feel or seem wrong either. Certainly changing God's Willing out for a Mother of Runes would not be a bad thing to do. Blessing is absolutely the best though as it can protect the Hammer as well as the thing it is on.

Leonin SquireAfter Leonin Squire the potential cuts are less obvious. Buried Ruin can probably go. The real strength of this deck is being able to do stuff so quickly and cheaply. It can win at the speed of other combo decks and it can do so through disruption. All the recursive stuff is just too slow and you lose the main edge you have. You might as well just play more cheap protective cards in their place to protect your stuff. The backup cards actually work out as a better way to win if your Hammer winds up in the bin. In hindsight a Welding Jar would have been better than the Leonin at providing security for being that much quicker. Sure it doesn't help against discard spells but at least in cube formats you don't tend to face that many of those across a meta. Dispatch is surprisingly cuttable as the cards like God's Willing are just better. You are not looking to go for the long game and so bypassing a creature for one turn is generally as good as doing so for good. God's Willing lets you get past multiple dorks while Dispatch only does one and that is really all the arguments you need. The generic deck thinning cheap cycle cards, or Buables as they all seem to be in this list, don't do loads. They help support the artifact themes a bit but you can easily trim them down. This list is certainly on the land heavy side rather than the land light side. That is fine as you want to attack with lands but you don't need the cheap cyclers to help your land ratios, it is mostly about the deck thinning and metalcraft.

Gods WillingDisruptive spells like Mana Tithe, Orim's Chant, Silence and Abeyance are all quite interesting. They give you a way to force through your combo against counter magic and often removal as well. The issue I have with these cards is you can't play many nor can you find them with tutors or dig. You either have it or you don't and they do generally slow your combo down. The cards like God's Willing are a little more useful in general as there are less control decks than creature decks in most unpowered cube metas. Both protect against removal spells to some extent and so it comes down to the balance of getting past blockers or getting past counterspells. Certainly you would play a bunch of these kinds of cards in the sideboard but for a main deck card I would go with the Mana Tithe as it has more rounded utility. I might also or instead go for Defense Grid as you can find it with Enlightened Tutor making it a more effective counter. Cards like Orim's Chant and Defense Grid boost the potency of your Blinkmoth cards. As an aside I think Abeyance is probably the least good just as a result of being too slow.

Paradise MantleThere was another dynamic at play as to which equipment to run. With so many cards tutoring for them it is good to avoid having dead cards and nice to be able to run a backup plan. Paradise Mantle, Masterwork and Hammer are all nice and work well together and with Puresteel but none offer a back plan. I looked at Ogre's Cleave as a terrible backup Hammer. I then just looked at Cranial Plating as a much better backup Hammer. Jitte affords some control, Batterskull is just a potential game plan in itself but is a little bit hard to play and abuse without Stoneforge. Skullclamp is a great way to draw into your combo but it would mean making a much more creature heavy deck and probably running things like Hangarback Walker or Myr Smith. I finally went with the SoFI based on someone else's suggestion. It is just a nice middle of the road card. It is a good threat, some control, some draw. It works very well with the protections and the doublestrike that is for sure! I was fairly happy with how the SoFI worked out but I will still probably try out the other top candidates. You can even go in an Argentum Armour and Quest of the Holy Relic direction with this basic shell. Again, it needs a higher creature count and would then likely also wind up with Skullclamp if it could. While this sounds strong extra combo elements muddy the waters and make initial testing harder, more so than extra colours do that is for sure!

Glistener ElfI wanted to add in Board the Weatherlight mostly because I like playing card quality spells. With a few more Defense Grid style targets it is probably starting to be worth it. It seemed Wrong not playing Open the Armory but it is slow and you are already better at putting that half of the combo together. You might as well go with an Idyllic Tutor at that point! Soltari Foot Soldier was one of the next most tempting cards. It is basically unblockable which is about as good as you can do for one mana. Vector Asp is legitimately one of the best on offer and strongly made me consider a black splash. He is no Glistener Elf but he supports artifact synergies and needs far less coloured mana commitments. I considered a bunch of generic removal outs like Unexpectedly Absent but they are just not what this deck is really trying to do. If Dispatch is too slow then what hope do cards twice the cost have.

So green, blue and red all offer some interesting cards for this list. Red gives you some better two drop doublestrike dorks and the only remaining good way to cheat equip costs. Blue gives you an infect dork with proper evasion, cards that give unblockable and then all the usual card quality and countermagic trimmings. Green gives you the only other one drop one shot dork in Glistener Elf and the best card that turns any Hammer equipped dude into a one shot threat in Berserk. The combination of doubling power and some evasion is rather nice. Green also has mana dorks to offer up as well of course.

Magnetic Theft


Magnetic Theft
Goblin Engineer
Kazuul's Toll Collector
Vulshock Battlemaster
Boros Charm
Assault Strobe
Boros Swiftblade
Swiftblade Vindicator


Blighted Agent
Slip Through Space
BerserkGrip of Phyresis
Card Quality


Glistener Elf
Sylvan Safekeeper
Mana Dorks

Here are some of the cards I looked at playing but didn't mention in the article;

Nahiri, the LithomancerRetrothopter
Hope of Ghriapur
Walking Ballista
Selfless Spirit
Lost Leonin
Ichorclaw Myr
Brass Squire
Nahiri, the Lithomancer
Balan, Wandering Knight
Heavenly Blademaster
Benevolent Bodyguard
Stern Constable or other tappers
Ironclad Slayer
Fencing Ace
Auriok Edgewright
Soltari Priest
Sram, Senior Edificer
Hammer of Nazahn
Icehide Golem
Court Homunculus

And lastly here is what I would build now based on my experience with the mono white build. I will certainly be trying out another mono white build but it will be a blend on Collossus Hammer/ Aid and Argeuntum Armor / Quest for the Holy Relic and thus look rather different overall. As the pure Hammer combo relies on speed and low costs so heavily it seems like madness to pass up on the premium cheap options other colours have to offer, especially when you have access to so much artifact fixing. It does now resemble an infect deck using equipment and artifact synergies rather than spell buffs with the added colours!

Phyrexian WalkerNaya Hammer
27 Spells

Paradise Mantle
Mishra's Bauble
Mox Opal

Phyrexian Walker
Welding Jar

Colossus Hammer
Sigarda's Aid
Kor Duelist
Glistener Elf

Giver of Runes
Chromatic Star
Kor OutfitterEnlightened Tutor
Magnetic Theft

Steelshaper's Gift
Thraben Inspector
Signal Pest

Masterwork of Ingenuity
Springleaf Drum
Vector Asp

Kor Outfitter
Puresteel Paladin
Stoneforge Mystic
Apostle's Blessing

Inkmoth NexusSpellskite
Cranial Plating

13 Lands

Ancient Den
Vault of Whispers
Tree of Tales
Great Furnace

Spire of Industry

Inkmoth Nexus
Blinkmoth Nexus

City of Brass
Mana Confluence
Gemstone Mine

Thursday 15 August 2019

Commander 2019 Additions and Conclusions

Not a whole lot to say about this one. It is what I expect from a commander set, well thought out cards for commander with a relatively low number of cards that will shine in heads up play as a result. I like how old mechanics like morph are being given support so that more is viable and interesting in commander. I think morph stuff is sufficiently bad that it still needs more than we got but this release takes us a lot of the way to a place where morph is viable. Really we need a 1 mana card that reduces the cost of playing a morph by 1 so you can actually curve out a morph on turn two. I like the madness stuff too but would have liked to see another Zombie Infestation quality card as a discard outlet and perhaps a couple more exciting cards with madness as well. With Anje being the commander I can appreciate why the list didn't have all that much in the way of discard outlets but it does mean the set hasn't done much to increase the power of madness in other formats.

I am pleased there are no stupid cards that are just busted for heads up play like True-Name Nemesis. Broadly the set is well designed although a few of the cards do strike me as rather good for commander! That combined with the higher EV on the reprints does rather fit in with the pushed product we are seeing in 2019. Much as powerful cards are good it is a dangerous precedent to set. Power creep is not sustainable at the present rate. The frequency of release combined with the higher quantity of note worthy cards is causing a bit of burn-out in me.

Despite the relatively low level of (1v1) playability on new cards and the high degree of narrowness among them commander 2019 has brought a lot of interesting cards and that is more what I find myself wanting these days. Most of the cards with a 3 or more rating will wind up in some quirky build around decks that are a load of fun, probably even some I have given 2/10 ratings. As for the drafting cube there are relatively few cards I plan to test and even fewer I expect to have much of a shot at lasting. Below are the seven card (best at top) I have any real hope of lasting and even then I only expect the top two to be all that strong. All the cards being at least three mana means that even if all these cards survive testing in the cube they will still not have much of an impact on the meta.

Thought Sponge
Wildfire Devils
Empowered Autogenerator
Ghired, Conclave Exile
Ignite the Future
Sevinne's Reclamation
Scroll of Fate

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Commander 2019 Preliminary Reviews Part V

Tectonic Hellion 1

This is probably a 0/10 card considering you can just have Eldrazi for this kind of price that are far better at taking out lands! This is a bit pricey considering its low toughness, lack of evasion and not even a guarantee on killing off lands. It isn't worth cheating out but it too much to just curve into in any deck that might want such a card. Every angle of what this card brings is done better by other cards and the complete packing is under powered and unsuitable.

Song of the World Soul 1

A very expensive do nothing that needs you to always have a token out to afford value. Seems like a super bad version of Monastery Mentor. Certainly this can get out of hand and affords a lot of ongoing value but a six mana do nothing start point just leaves this dead in the water.

Bloodthirsty Blade 2

Another card you can use to force people to attack you in heads up! This is rather better and more playable than Tahngarth at least. It can be a Bone Splitter and a tapper all in one card if you are happy taking a load of damage. It can even work out as removal if you have a really good blocker to hand and your opponent has no mana or your blocker is hexproof. Sadly this card rather fails in the goading department as your opponent can just give it back to you. This makes it more of a bad optional Rishadan Port than a removal spell. Versatile and reasonably cheap but I fear unlikely to do enough.

Wildfire Devils 6.5

Well now this does seem rather scary. It has good odds on doing something useful, most yards will have targets and most of them will do things that are useful. 50% of the time this is just a discounted Goblin Dark-Dweller that is unrestricted on converted mana cost recasts. It then continues to afford value if it is left sitting around. The other 50% of the time it is a Dire Fleet Daredevil like card. You will get less good cards but you get scaling, mana efficiency and ongoing value. It is never going to cause you to Wrath yourself either as it is a may effect. All told it is pretty safe playing this regardless of who has useful targets in their bin. A powerful and scarily unpredictable card. It can do enough when you make it to be a good play and it has enough ongoing effects to be a high priority target to kill. All things well worthy of a four mana cube card. Random effects are a bit of a turn off but at least it is a bit different.

Archfiend of Spite 2.5

Potent but really in need of a madness deck or at least one with reliable, and ideally instant speed, discard outlets. Unless you can surprise block with this and play it for five mana it is pretty poor. It is too unreliable as a threat and source of value while not having a big enough swing on the game to come close to being a seven mana card. Certainly decently powerful in a deck supporting it but basically unplayable without that reliable discard support.

Curse of Fool's Wisdom 3

This is actually just straight up powerful if you can play it at 4 mana. It is a huge threat that has stabilizing power for you and puts a massive downer on any card draw effects they have beyond their draw step. Six mana isn't even prohibitively bad as a backup method to cast this meaning you don't need to have masses of madness support. I think you do want enough madness support that this is not going to work out as a draft card. I think this is only good in decks somewhat tuned to house it, both with free discard outlets and a slow game plan. It might well also be good enough as a Replenish target. It is certainly all sorts of unfair when you start playing things like Wheel of Fortune with this out! Overall just a slow and needy card but none the less a potent one.

Chainer, Nightmare Adept 3

A powerful effect that has a wide array of applications. You can just haste up your dorks, you can use him like a free graveyard based Survival of the Fittest to turn bad cards into good ones, or you can get value from him discarding madness spells and getting back cheap dorks at the same time. This would all be really good and powerful if it were not for the shoddy 3/2 statline at four mana. It just seems too vulnerable for a card you want to stick around. You need mana to reasonably get value from him too so you cannot safely curve into him without huge blowout potential either.

Idol of Oblivion 5

While there is loads of token generators in cube I still don't think any one deck gets quite enough for this to be worth playing. That being said, if you build a tokens deck rather than drafting one this would be amazing. This is basically a two mana Howling Mine just for you, often that draws right away, and that can just casually turn into a 10/10 if you need it in the late game. If you expect to be able to make a token on average over half the time on your turn then this is very good. At 80% expected token production this is about as good of a card draw card I have seen and 80% isn't all that unrealistic, just narrow. This is not unlike a Skullclamp (that only works on tokens). Less bursty but also far less costly too. It doesn't even need to be a creature token so Thraben Inspector, Estrid the Masked and the like will turn Idol on. This is up there with some of the most efficient draw cards of all time and unlike some of the few that beat it there is no extra cost in resource terms, you don't need to have creatures die or pay life, or indeed give your opponent a pile of cards as well. All you need for Idol of Oblivion is a very specific kind of deck. That narrowness keeps this card fair while the easy counters and other limitations of token themes ensure Idol is not buffing those archetypes beyond a reasonable position. Mox Opal is a card that in my opinion buffs artifact synergies beyond the point they needed to be but that is quite the tangent so we will nip that in the bud.... for now.

Aeon Engine 0

Cute. Overpriced but probably needs to be that way so as to not just get really annoying in multiplayer games. One of the most impressive do nothing cards in heads up play however.

Hate Mirage 0

Shocking heads up card. Conditional and situational and impossible to build in such a way to help stop it being complete garbage. This can win races and be hilarious against someone cheating Eldrazi into play but just because it has a cool ceiling doesn't make this in any way good. Obviously it will do some work in commander where things are big and options are greater.

Nightmare Unmaking 5

I am not 100% sure what to make of this. It is a 5 mana Wrath which is mediocre. It is in black which is a perk but only if the card is playable. It is exile quality removal which is a huge perk. It is modal as well allowing for some potential one sided aspects and more viable midrange playability. On the flip side it is modal in a way that makes it so you can't always wipe out the board and have to leave some things alive. Worse still, it is a more or less option so you cannot deal with creatures that are equal in power to your hand size. That could be really annoying. Certainly a card I plan to test out but my expectation is that this will be bad. Just a bit too expensive for the reliability it affords in doing it's job. If it doesn't cut it in the drafting cube then it will not see much, if any, play in other cube formats.

Greven, Predator Captain 5

Built in incidental Hatred on an otherwise powerful card is quite scary, especially when combined with the ability to cost you life itself. This is big, a little evasive and affords some value and utility on attack. It is a bit slow and vulnerable for a five drop but the fact it can one shot people out of nowhere makes it most interesting. You need to find at least two blockers or a removal spell to ensure Greven doesn't end your life on his first attack. That level of threat might well make him viable for the draft cube. I doubt it but it might. There is not quite enough in the way of free life payment cards to assure the one shot kill in cube drafts. Such things are more of a built around. Worthy of testing but not holding out loads of hope.

Bone Miser 3

Weeeee! Waste Not on legs.. but for your cards. The latter part of that is especially nuts as it gives you so much control. You can burn through your whole deck if you have no creatures or lands plus a free discard outlet. That sounds like a lot of Zombie Infestation tokens or a very large Wild Mongrel! Regardless of silly gimmicks this is very potent of an effect but rather marred by being five mana and on a relatively vulnerable creature. If the body was more survivable, smaller and lower cost, or just an enchantment then this would be a most interesting card. As it is I fear it will not cut it in heads up play. Still too fun not to build around a bit though! Also too narrow to run in a limited setting unless it is heavily focused on mechanics and discard stuff is one of them.

Mire in Misery 2

For heads up play I think this is probably just a bad Edict. The more you increase the range on a card where your opponent has choices the weaker it ultimately becomes. This is very much not a Mortify. When you need it to kill an enchantment they will likely have a chaff dork to sac off at little cost. Equally you leave yourself open to having a dud removal spell if they have played something like Oath of Nissa. Nice that black does have a way to fight against enchantments a bit better even if it isn't very good. I think this will see occasional sideboard play at best. Perhaps it will be a suitable meta card in a rotisserie event.

Tuesday 13 August 2019

Commander 2019 Preliminary Reviews Part IV

Elsha of the Infinite 2

Future Sight on legs! This is in many ways a weaker version of Narset, Enlightened Master. Certainly Elsha offers more potential value and a bigger threat but being a 5 mana 3/3 that needs further mana investment to gain value is slow and vulnerable. Narset having hexproof makes her a lot more likely to survive so as to proffer the value desired. I wont use this as a threat as it is too slow and I won't use it as value as it is too vulnerable. I might use it as a commander but I really can't presently think why I would do so over Narset. Perhaps because I am scared of Pyroclam?! There is some storm potential for this and it is both a source of value and a threat but even in commander that feels as if it is outclassed by alternative options and is going to be of a secondary win.

Cliffside Rescuer 2.5

A nice little utility bear. This has the look of Bounty Agent to it which was a huge let down for cube. Luckily for Rescuer it is more general in application and doesn't need to face specific kinds of cards to be useful. While this is a useful effect it is still a bit slow which is a problem as the body is poor. Selfless Spirit can be used right away and comes with a body you can get work from. Rescuer can provide protection or evasion like a Mother of Runes but it dies in the process preventing you getting juicy two for ones. It also does nothing against mass removal which is much more the problem white decks face. As such I don't see this breaking into cube despite not being a terrible card.

Doomed Artisan 4

Very interesting card design. This is a token producer that makes a lot of stats. It is not unlike a Karn Scion of Urza just hitting that -2 button every turn which for a 3 mana card is pretty decent value. The two drawbacks for Artisan are that you have to kill him off before you can do all that much with the tokens and then of course you have shut off your value engine. This will lead to some very interesting choices as to when you take out the Artisan. Will three 3/3 dorks be enough or will you need four 4/4 dudes to get the job done, can you afford to wait another turn etc. So while very powerful this card is slow and needy. You need a decent way of getting the Artisan out of play and you really need to make him and wait a bunch of turns before he is value. Two end steps will be enough to be worth the cost but that still means you are waiting three turns before your investment does much of much. In a deck with heavy sac themes and outlets this is just another Ophiomancer kind of card but in a deck without it is going to be hard to make it work. It is a great source of fuel for a Skullclamp but you don't really need to empower than card any further, it is just win more at that point. Ultimately Artisan seems a little needy for how good it actually is. If it were just slow or just in need of some way to remove it from play it would be really scary but with both I think it is going to be hard to justify in most decks and cubes. Artifact synergy may carry him a little further in some synergy lists. Shutting off your own changelings probably won't stop it seeing any play at least!

Commander's Insignia 0

Obviously a blank for games without a command zone element to them hence the 0/10 rating. This is however a fantastic card design for commander and really needs to be praised for that. Linear aggro strategies are terrible in commander as you have so many opponents, your resources are stretched too thin. Further to that there is greatly increased life totals making a normal 1v1v1v1 game like having to kill six people with an aggro deck that would be pretty even with just one normal 20 life opponent. Aggro decks suffer the most from singleton after combo lists as is the same for deck size. In every way aggro lists are hard pushed out of commander. This is a potent enough card that aggro gets a good boost in commander. A nice cheap aggressive commander containing white is easy to cast three plus times in a game which just makes this card absolutely obscene. Not enough to bring it up to the level of other commander archetypes but a big old step in the right direction.

Tahngarth, First Mate 1

A four mana 5/5 with inverse menace is what we have here. Probably just a bad Sunder Shaman which is not a card I expect to see play. The only thing Tahngarth might help with in heads up play is if you want to lose life or have things attacked. Hornet's Nest? Seems pretty far fetched. Linear and mediocre card but a unique effect so not something you want to entirely disregard. Mild tribal potential too but only due to extreme scarcity in the tribe.

Full Flowering 0

Not powerful enough, flexible enough or even playable enough. You need tokens for this to be good and really they need to be better than 3/3 tokens to be getting value for mana. A nice curve play post Advent of the Wurm for a pair of 5/5 tramplers for 5 but even that is reasonably fair sounding by cube standards. I would still just rather a Verdurous Gearhulk in most cases.

Atla Palani, Nest Tender 1

Cute design and synergies but mostly this is a 2/3 for 4 with three colours in the cost. For heads up play this is likely just a meme card. Not total garbage but certainly not super competitive either. You need to totally build around it that is for sure. It can do some cool things which is why it is fun and it can even do them right away if you are really well setup for it. Mostly however this is slow and bad. Play eggs and this will mostly find eggs. Only play fatties and your Atla is a 6 drop that needs to survive a turn or have haste and that needs a sac outlet. All too much work for the likely payoffs.

Marisi, Breaker of the Coil 0

Very unimpressive, I would not play this in heads up even as a mono coloured card. The stats are OK but you need a lot more than just stats to do well in cube this high up the curve. Really I want this to have at least haste, probably also first strike or trample or both before I am impressed at a cube standard. An OK race card but racing is the only thing Naya zoo decks are really good at...

Mass Diminish 2

This seems good but lacks a few key elements to get there I think. It intrinsically offers no value and will often be a sub par Fog. It is conditional in that it needs a suitable board to play it into. It is hard to afford blowouts due to being sorcery. Lastly it doesn't remove abilities which are typically the scarier thing. This can have a decent ceiling but I fear the average and floor of this card are just going to be underwhelming. It is a little unreliable and for what it does it really needed to be reliable.

Mandate of Peace 2

Hmm, seems like a bad Orim's Chant. You cannot stop things going down in the precombat main phase and that makes this seem like a much more of a Fog than anything else. You do get a bunch of extra pleasantries on your Fog but the same is true of all the two mana Fog cards. This is playable but I fear it sits relatively low on the pick list for Fogs or Silences and will wind up seeing minimal cube play.

Voice of Many 0

A conditional Kavu Climber is not what the doctor ordered. Very much not a heads up card. You should be able to draw two with it fairly reliably in multiplayer formats which does make it a whole load better there at least.

Ohran Frostfang 5

This is big and serious. Green getting an Edric/Bident effect is lovely. The addition of the deathtouch also really improves the value of chump attacking with a load of small dorks. This is like a value Overrun! Even without a board this card isn't a dud. It survives a lot of abuse and will threaten to kill blockers or draw cards over time. The issue I have with this is not power but if you want this effect on a five drop. Green can flop out one of many top tier walkers or massive dorks at five mana. Why would you want 2 power and some potential card draw when you can have endless 4/4 trampling lands, 9/9 in stats over 5 bodies, 12/12 in stats, 8/8 and trample in stats and so on and so forth. Green five drops win the game and this one does so slowly and less reliably than others. I like it and will test it but my expectation is that cube is too fast for this kind of fun now.

Selesnya Eulogist 1

The body is too small and do nothing for the cost, the ability costs too much and needs you to have a token, ideally one worth three or more mana! I don't rate the chances of this one seeing cube action. Scavenging Ooze is vastly better as disruption and most things are better as token generation...