Saturday 10 August 2019

Commander 2019 Preliminary Reviews Part III

Thieving Amalgam 1

While the effect of this card is super cool the old seven mana 6/7 starting point makes it rather a non-event. You don't get enough back from this quickly enough. It is much the same sort of card as Whisperwood Elemental and while it gets a bit more stats for that extra mana stats it not what you are after as you go up the curve. A top end card wants to be powerful but the further from four mana you go upwards the more important it is for the card to have game closing power and board stabilizing swings. Cards like Elesh Norn, Ugin, Avenger of Zendikar etc. A scaled down Amalgam would be a great value midrange card but the ongoing value effect just isn't what we are looking for in a seven drop. A shame really as I love the idea of manifesting my opponents stuff! Stealing unknown (by them) cards from your opponent for your own uses is immensely powerful in cube. I really wish this was a 3BB 4/5 with the same first ability and the same second ability but for 1 life each not two. It would be absolutely amazing then! Even at 4/4 I think it would probably still make the cube but this conjecture is fairly meaningless so lets move on.

Apex Altisaur 2

Cool flavour and timmy card. Nice take on a green Wrath as well. Sadly a nine mana Wrath is no good for anything really. Not in a world of Ugins at least. This is another "what if" moment... If this was a 7 mana 6/10 then there is a chance it would be playable and you could give it a bit more without it seeming busted. A 6/12 is probably fine, you could slap on trample or something and that would be reasonable too. Sure, it is getting a bit rough for standard at that point but this is commander or legacy in which it would be fine. It just seems a shame to waste nice design space on a card that is so mediocre. Especially when it is an effect the colour could really use offered in a way that is perfectly in line with the colour pie. This might be used as part of a tool belt in cube for things like Green Sun's Zenith, Natural Order, Summoner's Pact and Tooth and Nail. When you really need your top end to solve specific and varied problems this card has a home but it is a rare one. It certainly isn't close to powerful or playable enough for the drafting cubes.

Thought Sponge 6.5

At first I didn't much like this but the more I dwell on it the more drawn to it I am. Generally the floor on this is very good. A flash 2/2 that draws two cards when it dies is often going to be a 3 for 1 with reasonable tempo. Being flash lets blue play as blue wants to play as well. The only times in which your floor extends below this is when your opponent has specific answers like exile to deny the card draw or stat reduction to limit it. If you are blocking with Sponge then they need to have that answer in instant form and have the mana which will be infrequent. Even then you are baiting out premium removal with a value card and still going 1 for 1. Then we can consider the ceiling on this card which is just foolish! Just one extra card drawn makes it a 3/3 that Ancestrals on death! Card draw is pretty common in cube. You might feel safe facing an empty board with removal in hand to just burn off a few clues but suddenly my end of turn 4/4 is a terrifying threat you really can't afford to leave in play or kill. I think the ceiling is both more frequent than the floor and a lot more game ending on Thought Sponge. Given that the expected baseline is strong it leads me to think this will be a good cube card. Yet another scary blowout card UW control decks can ruin you with on four open mana.

Thalia's Geistcaller 2

While this card looks great it is not well enough supported in my cube to work out and I suspect the same is true of most others. There simply are not enough spirits, generated as tokens or on cards, nor are there enough ways to cast things from the graveyard. Either a 3 power 3 mana lifelink you can make indestructible for no mana cost or 3 drop that produces 1/1 fliers in an ongoing capacity are great. Either of those would make this a decent limted cube card but sadly it is mostly just neither. In a deck focused around empowering this then it could be pretty strong. There needs to be other things that tie in with those supporting synergies for that to be worth doing however and none jump to mind right now. Perhaps there are not yet the cards needed for such things. Lots of synergy potential with a lot of power to unlock but unlikely to be much of relevance in limitedcube play. One to watch at least as ever more support for it is printed.

Empowered Autogenerator 7

Good job they banned Paradox Engine in commander... This gets out of hand pretty fast. It is like the Astral Cornucopia Throne of Geth combo found in some Paradox Engine combo lists except that it doesn't need two cards and doesn't need a sacrifice. Four mana is steep for a single ramp but even just after 1 activation this is starting to look like good value. By the fourth time you tap it for mana you will have an obscene advantage. Any big ramp or mana hungry list will be all over this. It is not quite as bursty and quick as a Gilded Lotus but it is rather more powerful. Most cubes will have a place for this. Even mine with a lack of that many big things to ramp into will certainly test this out. Even if it doesn't quite cut it in my limited cube it will see oodles of play in combo cubes, powered cubes and a lot of the constructed cube events too. Scary card! Especially in a world with two Voltaic Keys!

Backdraft Hellkite 3

This is just a big Dreadhorde Arcanist which does mean it is more powerful but doesn't make it more playable. Hellkite is fairly extreme in that you can replay anything and as many things as you have mana for. That will mean a pile of burn even at just five mana. The thing is that Glorybringer is still rather better. You don't need stuff in the bin, you don't need to spend more mana and you get to swing in a turn faster. At the other end of things Arcanist just hits the things you want it to far more quickly and reliably. Arcanist is a threat for the value it gains while Hellkite is also a threat due to the stats. You don't need your threats being so on that many fronts at the cost of of tempo and power per mana. All told I don't see this getting any cube action outside of quite specific build around decks. It is powerful but without synergies it is a bit aimless. Just play value recursion cards or big dragon threats. Half mast cards needs to be far more pushed in power than this to get past that initial hurdle.

Ignite the Future 5

A powerful build around card or potentially just a red Harmonize! It is an Act on Impulse that lets you play cards the following turn as well as the current one as per how Light up the Stage functions. This makes it reasonably viable as a card advantage tool at the top end of an aggro list or even in a midrange build. I am not sure why you would play it over something like Experimental Frenzy or Outpost Siege in those respectively though. So the dream for this card is looting it into the bin on turn one. Making Dreadhord Arcanist turn two which you Giant Growth and attack with on turn three after having played some kind of Worldly Tutor so that you can cast your Emrakul for free! Realistically this is a card that sits in hand till you are out of things to do or in need of something specific. I like it a lot but fear you need to exploit it for it to be worth running and exploiting it is a fair amount of work and not going to happen in a limited setting. Feels like a Mizzix's Mastery type of card, or indeed a Past in Flames one as the styling of the card would suggest. I do like it when a card has both general application as this does int he Harmonize capacity, while also having some deeper more exploitable synergies that could stand to make it a combo tool. It makes them for more interesting to test and build with.

Pramikon, Sky Rampart 0

This is just a bad gold wall in one versus one play and will not see any play outside of multiplayer. At least it looks interesting and powerful there.

Wall of Stolen Identity 0

Really cool design for a card with great flavour but ultimately it is just bad. You could play Dungeon Geists over this and actually have a threat to go with your four mana removal card! Or just a Control Magic and do the job properly... This is only good when you steal a card with a tap ability you really want. If it is a passive or just mana to use ability then you have not stopped your opponent using it and if it isn't then you have gained very little in the process.

Dockside Extortionist 2

This is pretty mental. If you look at Wily Goblin this only needs 1 hit to be better, when you get multiple hits the card looks like a better Black Lotus! For heads up play this will be a bit polar, as a turn two play against Ironworks or Affinity it will be exceptional, against most other lists it is rarely going to do anything for you and this will be the case for most of the game. This unpredictability makes it basically unplayable outside of a sideboard card or known meta but it isn't really the kind of card you want in your sideboard, you want it main as it is a strong support card for an array of themes. For commander this is going to be a beast as it is so much more reliable what with mana rocks being so common and having multiple opponents to feed off. For cube however this just won't get the opportunity to shine very often despite having such a mental ceiling. This is going to be in every commander deck that is red pretty much until it rockets in value enough to price out players from inclusion. It is the red Smothering Tithe! It might be so good as to get banned in commander.

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