Saturday, 14 September 2019

Throne of Eldraine Preliminary Review Part V

Knight's Charge 3

Another supremely potent tribal payoff card for knights. In some ways this is worse than a Glorious Anthem as it doesn't improve the combat potential of your knights. On the flip side it is lifegain and unblockable damage both of which have some big positives. Knights are generally pretty good in combat anyway. What tips this over Anthem is that you get a personal instant speed Patriarch's Bidding on the card as well. That is an impressive second wind. Sure, 8 mana is going to be a very tall order for a knight deck, especially a heads up one. The game is likely going to have to be going in to double digits of turns. Those are the games against midrange and control decks and that is where this effect will be most useful. It will just be a bit of an I win button should you get there. It will force riskier lines from your opponents even if you never get there too. Nice to have inevitability on your Anthem! Still, a card exclusively for tribal knights isn't seeing all that much love, certainly no drafting cube love.

Banish into Fable 3

This is a bit of a messy card which puts me off it rather. It is certainly good and powerful but it is kind of annoying too. It is gold, it is expensive, it wants support, it is a soft answer rather than a hard one. I am sure there are more awkward aspects to this card that those too. It is playable without support, not good but still does stuff and that annoys me too! If it were just a do nothing without artifacts or enchants then we could rule it out but it isn't and so this might well see some mild play. When you tick all the boxes getting to bounce three things and put down three 2/2 knights at instant speed you will have drastically altered the board state in your favour. Far more so than most good six drops from Inferno Titan, to Elspeth Sun's Champion to Dream Eater. Banish into Fable fully powered up is beastly. It will crush midrange and possibly control too but it needs loads of setup and Cyclonic Rift is vastly easier, more convenient, more effective against aggressive decks, and generally just as likely to be the swing you need. Or even Flood of Tears or Crush of Tentacles. So yes, this is powerful, it has a higher ceiling than a lot of comparable cards but it is just a little needy to the get amount of attention it needs to be a cube staple.

Thorn Mammoth 2

This seems like a big upgrade to Foe-Razer Regent which itself was not terrible by any means. This is a bigger body for more effective immediate removal. It then offers you the ability to fight stuff in an ongoing capacity which gives a lot of board control. A 6/6 trample does some reasonable work too. Much as this is a powerful card that can dominate a game and a rare example of solid removal in green I fear it is not going to do all that well in cube. By seven mana green wants to be closing the game not controlling it. This is vulnerable to the things green is vulnerable too and doesn't really solve the problems it faces. Green is fine at just having better stuff in the late game, it doesn't need to kill threats, it needs to kill utility dorks. This will look good because it will do a lot of winning when it comes down and it will look like it is dominating the game, which it will be. The trick to appreciating why this isn't so strong is to count the number of times it is in hand but un-cast when the game is done or indeed how much quicker the game would have been over in your favour when you do make it. Avenger of Zendikar kills a whole lot faster than this most of the time! Craterhoof kills immediately!

Taste of Death 0

Really big Barter in Blood. Six is far too much for removal, especially one so unreliable. This isn't a wrath but it isn't spot removal either. It will counter the +1 of a Sun's Champion sometimes which is laughable. Just play cheaper Wraths or much much cheaper Edicts. I like food but not at the cost of a terrible card.

Workshop Elders 0

Lol, a 7 mana 4/4 with an upkeep effect. The partial Wonder ability does not move this out of the ranks of the unplayable.

Shimmer Dragon 2

Now this is very impressive in an artifact deck. It is pretty much a bigger Consecrated Sphinx with hexproof. That is outstanding but it is also rather surplus to requirement most of the time. Artifact decks don't need to play cards like Consecrated Sphinx, amped up or otherwise. They have cards like Urza, Karn, Sai, Thoughtcast, and so on and so on. If you have the artifacts to support the Dragon you have them to support cheaper more powerful tools. This doesn't make it unplayable. It is still a Mahamotti Djinn at worst. There are things that just happen to generate a bunch of artifacts that you could pair this with in a control deck like Spell Swindle. A couple of cards like that and Shimmer Dragon starts to seem quite appealing. Too narrow for draft and so marginal outside that I don't suspect this will be seen much at all but it will certainly be impressive when we do. Power is not what holds this back!

Silverwing Squadron 0

Far from exciting in multiplayer, shocking slow crap in heads up.

Embereth Skyblazer 0

Not a bad card but a long way from competing with the alternatives in a heads up setting. Would you like this or a Rekindling Phoenix? Pia and Kiran Nalaar? Not even close to close.

Chittering Witch 1

This rather suffers the lack of opponents in heads up play too. It is fine but over cost and under powered for 1v1. It still does the things you play a card like this for, sac outlets, multiple bodies etc but you have to want exactly this offering of such things to play this. Generally you will play a better card like Yawgmoth for the sac outlet and a better card like Ophiomancer or Lazotep Reaver for the bodies. There is a balance to condensing synergies to open up deck space and this one falls far too short of the power threshold.

Gluttonous Troll 1

A reasonable threat and sac outlet but pretty slow and boring. The EtB value is poor which helps make it scale less unfavourably into heads up play at least but does make it rather more vulnerable to removal. Much like Chittering Witch it is a somewhat condensed synergy card that is too low on power to appeal all that often.

Faerie Formation 2

This reminds me of Docent of Perfection even though they operate fairly differently. Perhaps it is just the immediate cost, stats and making of 1/1s that is all I am going on! What I learned from testing Docent is that things that generate armies as the result of doing things really want to be lower on the curve. Things at five and greater want to have an immediate impact rather than a gradual one over time. Mesmerizing Benthid is the kind of five drop you want as it is good against removal spells and against aggression. Formation and Docent are good against neither. Formation is powerful but it is mana intense, slow and vulnerable. It is also another half cocked card. Want cards? Play Consecrated Sphinx or Muldrifter Want 1/1 fliers? Then play Rogue Refiner and cards of that nature. In a deck with appropriate cost reduction and mana generation effects this does start to get rather more exciting rather quickly but I still struggle to see where exactly I am playing it.

Steelbane Hydra 0

While this has some reasonable scaling with mana compared to other green creatures with the ability to Naturalize things the extortionate cost of the low end on this card makes it utterly unplayable. It is six mana to do a single naturalize essentially at sorcery speed and go 1 for 1 in the process. Ouch. Way to make Desert Twister look good. At ten mana this is obviously a big dork with the ability to keep any offending artifacts or enchantments at bay but that is a long way of redeeming this card in heads up play.

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