Thursday 26 September 2019

Throne of Eldraine Preliminary Review Part XI

Elite Headhunter 1

Expensive for the body and for the ability. While the ability is nice it is not worth the initial cost of getting the card out on top of the activation cost. Not by a fairly long shot. Devotion is the only hope for this and it is a long shot there at best.

Oakhame Adversary 1

This is an Ohran Viper with an extra power and a cost that varies either side of it. As a 1G card this is nutty good, it rivals Dark Confidant, not so much for the ability to draw cards but for being vastly more robust and useful of a body. Early game this is going to do a lot of damage to a lot of decks. The thing is, only green decks because against non-green decks this comes out too late to be relevant. If I had spare sideboard space there are certainly lists I would want a two mana Ohran Viper but I never want a four mana one.

Redcap Melee 2

A very efficient damage spell that cannot hit players. If it could we would be looking at a Fireblast level of card so perhaps that is for the best. As it stands I am not sure that this is all that exciting. Aggro decks want face damage as an option and almost all the other decks want to not sac their lands. This doesn't even feel that interesting as a sideboard card. Obviously it will still see play in plenty of places, it is an efficient one drop. I just expect cube to be one of the least likely places to see it. This is best for answering Wrenn and Six in modern short of a counterspell or Inquisition effect.

Specter's Shriek 7.5

This has me interested! I think it is good. It is a Thoughtsieze that exiles and costs no life. Doomfall is a scary card because it can exile key cards and this does it a whole lot better. It is also an Unmask in a lot of ways too. Now, it is obviously worse than Thoughtsieze but I feel it is rather better than Unmask. Four mana is pretty awful as an alternate cast mode and needing to exile a black card is rather restrictive both on your build and on your lines of play in game. Shriek is always one mana and can exile any card in your hand making it more playable and more comfortable when you do. It also works as your last card which is a nice little bit of scaling for it. Certainly Unmask costing less on pitch mode is a big deal but so is the ability to go one for one at low cost. I think you will have an option on a black card around a third of the time you hit in my cube currently. Black is the most played colour and has a lot of scary cards. All told I think this will cost you extra somewhere in the 0.55 to 0.65 card range. I think that you can recover that card cost far more easily than the tempo loss of paying four mana for this effect! Not having to pay any life also makes it easier to recover any lost card advantage. Calling this the black Force of Will would be very generous but I am pretty happy with calling it the black Arcane Denial. I am happy enough conceding a little bit of card advantage when the disruption is so cheap and broad. When I can pay my bad cards for their good cards, or in the case of Denial, their good card for more of their less good cards. I am hopeful that this can be a long awaited broadly playable addition to the suite of black one mana disruption in cube. It is a real bottleneck on the colour at present. When you compare the numbers of core one drops in other colours, white has 2/1s for days, red has endless Shocks, green has enough one mana ramp to support multiple green players and blue has a healthy seven card quality spells, some information gathering utility stuff, some pesky dorks and a bunch of counters. Black however has a couple of good discard spells and some fairly desperate ones doing a poor job of plugging the gap. I think this card is decent but the lack of things in that area will help this perform a little better too.

Edgewall Inkeeper 2

This certainly makes me want to build an adventure deck in cube. The vulnerability of this and the lack of redundancy in it and in good adventures makes that a fools dream! Standard has more hope of such things. Still, a one drop that draws cards like this opens the eye rather. Compare this to Johira or Beast Whisperer. A lot more expensive! Glimpse of Nature is banned and that is just one turn! I am not however seriously trying to compare this to Glimpse. This does not have the support it needs to get close to that which is obviously why they can get away with printing a seemingly dangerous looking card. Perhaps in 20 years when they have had another couple of goes at adventure cards this will suddenly need a ban in some old formats. Cheap enough to be a lock in should a standard adventure deck exist but not doing loads beyond that and booster draft.

Deafening Silence 3.5

Another take on Rule of Law, or indeed Arcane Laboratory as it originally was. Turns out a lot of the things we associate with other colours now started out life as blue cards (Propaganda anyone?) because blue gets all the interesting cards... Anyway, back to Deafening Silence, which is very good. It is a sideboard dream card. Getting to pay two less for your hoser is amazing. You are playing cards like this to crap all over storm style decks which are pretty hard to stop, pretty degenerate, and very powerful. You give no monkeys about them casting loads of creatures. Sure, this is not all that against elves or some kind of Kobold combo or an Aluren plan but they are not the target of this. This will be in boards all over the place in any format with any sort of storm deck that is at all good. It might even make it maindeck in some. I can imagine some modern decks using things like Spellstutter Sprite, Spell Queller, Aether Vial, and Giver of Runes (and likely Stoneforge...) being quite exceptional with this. For cube this is too narrow and often too much of a do nothing. It might wind up main in a constructed style deck in a known meta, I have seen Choke doing that on more than one occasion! But mostly it will just be a strong board tool. It will see more play than Carpet of Flowers and less than Hydroblast. In modern white continues to be the best colour for sideboards.

Glass Casket 4

It is a Silkwrap but in artifact form rather than enchantment. Silkwrap has seen no cube action with a number of directly superior options. This however is unique being the only one of those kinds of cards that is an artifact. As such any deck packing a lot of artifact synergies may have an interest in this. It is a serviceable removal spell that doesn't require much to become great. Sai gives us a 1/1 Thopter and suddenly this becomes one of the best value removal spells on offer. Johira gives us a card, Urza gives us a mana rock, this list goes on and on. Casket will see loads of play. Loads of differing kinds of decks want artifact support and cheap spot removal is something really hard to find in the realm of artifacts. While most cubes will have some artifact synergies it will be too hard to draft them and so this isn't going to be a strong addition there. It is a tool for constructed decks. Dispatch is obviously the more potent removal tool for the artifact heavy white deck but it has some drawbacks even compared to this. In the lighter artifact decks Disptach is unreliable and is not always able to kill something in the early turns. Dispatch is also not an artifact and thus contributes nothing back to the deck, Glass Casket lets you pack removal without hurting those empowering, scaling synergies.

Thunderous Snapper 1.5

Blue and green are pretty good at triggering this. Force of Will? Treasure Cruise? Time Warp Restock Time Warp! This is also an acceptable size for the cost. Blue devotion lists might entertain this. What stops this from being good in fast powerful formats like cube is that you simply cannot have that many cards with CMC five or more in a deck. That means that you can only hope to trigger this a few times and only if you are lucky enough to have them at the right time. As such this is pretty win more, fairly narrow and not even that busted when it works out. Devotion really does seem to be the best hope for this getting any action. It is at least probably the most playable of the cycle after the Owl.

Oathsworn Knight 2

I really hope this is homage to "it's just a flesh wound", if so, excellent job. As to the power of this one it is rather more murky. It is just a 4/4 for three that has to get stuck in. That is pretty terrible. It is also easily shrunk and made into a less relevant card pretty quickly. It is good with buffs and other counter synergies but not exactly abusive. I don't anticipate this getting that much love as it is just a bit of a do nothing despite having a reasonable power level. It is certainly in themed decks if it does get cube action.

Faeburrow Elder 4

Will this is a potent little card. At worst it taps for two and is a 2/2 which puts Palladium Myr to shame. Which is should being gold vs colourless. Add to that the Bloomtender potential for this to tap for upto five mana while being upto a 5/5 is all pretty naughty. Vigilance lets you abuse both the scaling body and scaling mana production too. Baseline this is good and ceiling is mental. Even at just three mana on a 3/3 this is very strong. Turn one Deathritre, turn two this, turn three put the game well out of reach! In the right kind of deck this is getting a lot done but in draft cubes those are not coming up nearly often enough. If you really want to push four or five colour green decks in a cube this is a good way to do so. If you have synergies or always expect to be able to make this a 3/3 then it is pretty worth including but that isn't going to be often.

Idyllic Grange 3.5

While this is a great card it is too low impact and narrow to be worth a cube slot. As such it will be a constructed card. In a deck with only plains and that is looking to get to four mana this is just free value and you will almost always play it. It will occasionally hurt you in screws by coming in tapped but it will also just be a nice power boost for free rather more often. White aggressive decks have a lot of cards that an additional +1/+1 counter will greatly empower. The problem is that there are other utility lands and the more you play of those the vastly weaker and riskier this becomes. Is the slight plus of this better than that of a Windbrisk Heights? A Rishadan Port? Probably not in most cases. Much as I love this I can't see it making the final cut in all that many decks. How it works and what it competes with seem to rule it out of constructed cube much of the time. Shame as it is both powerful and interesting. I really like the idea of my Tithe finding me a buff! You also don't need many dorks that scale well with +1/+1 counters for this to start looking pretty tasty. What this does do that no other utility land offers is directly provide tempo. You can curve out with this and spend all your mana on efficient spells and still get a buff for no cost. Aggro white decks can really apply a lot of pressure quickly and mustering a defense against it is tough. Cards like this will make is a lot harder to stabilize. This is all fairly ceiling stuff though, you need to curve to four pretty perfectly for this to be that powerful free edge. In the best settings this is actually one of the best utility lands going because it is the only one that is both tempo gains and zero tempo cost. I think it is sufficiently well balanced however that it is far from any sort of auto include status. Still a fair way off a Barbarian Ring! It treads a very fine line between a marginal boost, a totally free perk, and an opportunity cost.

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