Wednesday 7 August 2019

Commander 2019 Preliminary Reviews Part II

K'rrik, Son of Yawgmoth 3

This is lovely design that reminds me of Spike, Tournament Grinder from Unstable. K'rrik is pegged very nicely for Commander without being obviously too abusive for other formats. The initial cost of six life is huge on a 20 life start but minor on a 40 total. With life being the resource that K'rrik is tapping into you want a bunch left over to go off with. The card this really competes and compares with is Bolas's Citadel. Both have pros and cons to them but overall I think the Citadel has slightly more game despite both ultimately being combo build around tools and nothing much more. Citadel costs more to get out and only lets you play cards for life if they are atop the library however K'rrik costs more life to reduce costs, cannot generate card advantage nor can he reduce costs of non-black mana sources. K'rrik is more of a dedicated heavy black card, you want to build it into a deck with cards that are not just black but cards that have little to no colourless in their costs. K'rrik is also more of a threat than Citadel and does work himself to recuperate spent life. The thing is that neither of these latter things matter that much if your plan is to just go off using him as a combo card. I feel like it will be an activated ability, or several, that ultimately break K'rrik and not a sequence of casting spells. That is the area in which Citadel has no ability to compete. So this is a very cool and very fun card but it is also totally unplayable in anything other than a constructed build around list. I give it a three out of ten simply for the scary levels of raw power in this card. It is the kind of card that is hard to work into a deck but if you do manage it well then it will be nuts.

Gerrard, Weatherlight Hero 2.5

An interesting Second Sunrise effect on legs. More relevantly than the legs are the fact than you can lay Gerrard before the fact and thus have all your mana up on the turn you are going off. While combo seems the obvious use for this you can just play him as board wipe protection. I am not that impressed with this latter potential as you have to play a gold Hill Giant. You might as well just play a planeswalker, Hallowed Spirit Keeper, Selfless Spirit, or any other of the wide range of cards that help against mass removal. As a combo card Gerrard is narrow, clunky and hard to abuse. You cannot generate loops easily with him due to the self exile and so at best he is probably a Turn About level of support card in the odd obscure deck. An interesting new tool for commander players however.

Scaretiller 1

This is a four mana 1/4 making it super slow and poor tempo. It needs to become tapped to do much of anything too and with such poor stats for the cost this really means finding a way to tap it outside of combat. Give me a Spingleaf Drum, a Paradox Engine and Scaretiller and we have some action but less than that and we likely just have a do nothing.

Sudden Substitution 2.5

This is an interesting card for sure. It is either a Commandeer or a Control Magic of sorts. You are either giving away a spell to steal a dork or giving away a dork to steal a spell. The dream is obviously giving away a bad creature or a bad spell such as a Pact that cannot be paid for but that sounds like quite a lot of work to pull off. In reality this is probably seeing more use as a versatile piece of disruption. To be worth including as such you need a bunch of low value/cost dorks and spells and even then the card feels situational and clunky. Needing to have and cast and lose a spell is a big deal and makes this more like a 5 or 6 mana Control Magic which is just bad. The spell stealing side of things is better as it can just cost you 4 at the time but it does then have preconditions. The kinds of deck that most want to steal spells are not those that have that many cheap dorks. So despite the potential for extreme blowouts with this card it feels too narrow for any sort of drafting cube use. I suspect it will be a good tool in a number of other places however, cute with a Pact combo list, interesting sideboard tech against a deck relying on a big spell, or just a cute card in a creature heavy constructed blue tempo build. The split second is a big deal on this as a Control Magic as it lets you steal creatures like Walking Ballista. Useful it might be but good enough to pay for a spell you give an opponent thus 2 for 3ing yourself overall sounds far from worth it. Commandeer does that and it does it for no mana and it is still pretty dodgy!

Rayami, First of the Fallen 1

This is not a good cube card despite not being a bad card. It is just far too many colours for just a dork with OK stats and potentially some good keywords a little down the line. In reality the exile aspect of the card is more powerful and relevant than the gaining of any key words. For that we have actually good cards like Kalitas and don't need to consider jank like this.

Road of Return 1

Cute to have another two mana Regrowth option but unlikely to be that useful in cube. Regrowth is no longer a rare effect and is certainly not that powerful of one either. I doubt I will ever run this in a non-commander setting.

Pendant of Prosperity 0

Comically bad card for one vs. one play and still rather dodgy for a multiplayer game. I like the design but I think it needed a bit more incentives attached to see much love at all anywhere.

Scroll of Fate 6

I rather like this. It reminds me a little of Zombie Infestation in that both make 2/2 dorks at the cost of cards in hand. Scroll is more card efficient while Infestation is more time and mana efficient. That makes Infestation more of a combo card while Scroll feels like it could be more sensibly run anywhere. You are nicely ahead on tempo when you make 3 dorks with Scroll but the tempo doesn't start out quite so well. One big advantage you have with Scroll is that it is hard to play well against manifest cards as you don't know which ones will suddenly flip over into something far scarier. A manifest card is worth significantly more than a 2/2 zombie token basically. They are safer against things like bounce and put the fear of hidden information in people. It is a really good card for decks expecting to have dead draws too. Combined with Land Tax for example you have quite a nice efficient little engine on the go. Effectively flashing in the 2/2s is nice as well as it affords extra options. You opponent cannot clear the board with sorcery effects for example thus making Scroll reasonable as planeswalker pressure. Scroll may be a little fair and lackluster to see lots of play in cube but it might also be convenient and efficient enough to earn a slot. Very much a card worthy of testing.

Volrath, the Shapestealer 2

Big and powerful and versatile but also slow and clunky and very gold indeed. This is just the kind of card that could see play in cube but won't because cards like The Scarab God exist. There are just more powerful cards and so you play them over Volrath in the relatively few deck slots you can give to such cards. For me it is one of those cases where you probably play a Clone, a Serrated Arrows, or just a big threat like a Verdurous Gearhulk instead based on what your deck actually wants.

Gift of Doom 2

I am a big fan of this simply because it is incredibly different. I am not sure that it is all that good however. In hardcast mode it is wildly overpriced. In morph mode it is cool and tricky but still clunky, costly and slow. A Grey Ogre is not a great starting point. Then to flip it onto another dork you need to lose the 2/2 morph, another creature and yet still have a third target open. With three dorks in play you save one from a Wrath and upgrade it a bit. Even when you use this to counter spot removal you are still down cards and tempo. It feels too unique not to wind up with a home somewhere but I don't really see where as yet.

Grismold, the Dreadsower 3

This is a potent token generator but it is also a bit risky. You can obviously only play it in a deck taking advantage of tokens, say an aristocrat strategy. Even then however you are still in danger from the tokens you give out. Loads of deck can also take advantage of free 1/1s and may kill you with them before your own synergies kick in. Grismold is a threat and provides fuel but it is all a bit on the slow side and this gives the many higher tempo decks a big window to exploit him and you. I think his raw power will offset these risks but it doesn't help with how narrow he is. I suspect this only sees play in a few constructed builds, certainly not a card that is playable enough for a limited format.

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