Tuesday 1 October 2019

Throne of Eldraine Preliminary Review Part XV

Castle Garenbrig 7

This is really juicy. It is a Temple of the False God for creatures in green. It is vastly better than Temple assuming you are green and most of your mana sinks and 6+ drops are on creatures, which is typically the case. Castle is better than Temple because it taps for green mana, it taps for a single mana early in the game and for any card types, and best of all, it works to produce 6 mana from 5 with any other sources, not just lands. You can just power this out with elves giving you a much greater range of playable archetypes in which you will want this. Turn three Carnage Tyrants and Primeval Titans sound like they will be increasingly common in the depowered cubes. Low cost and decent return. The only downside is being somewhat narrow for the drafting cube. If it is cut it is due to space not power as is the case with so many utility lands.

Realm-Cloaked Giant 1

Five mana Wraths might be OK in standard but they are not what you want in cube. There is not much potential for abuse with tribal giants either as they are expensive and uncommon. This card might get a look in if the Giant was good but a vanilla 7/7 vigilance for seven is terrible. I would much much rather play an all in one Wrath plus threat generator like Phyrexian Rebirth or Marshall Coup than this. Typically I much prefer running four mana mass removal and better threats than cards like Coup as well so the Giant feels a little too far down the list to get much cube love at all.

Syr Faren, the Hengehammer 2

Narrow but cheap, powerful and suitable for the devotion and stompy green archetypes I mocked earlier in my Yorvo review. This is worse than a card like Strangleroot Geist on power level but it has some nice scaling with buffs and seems to just generally fit the themes those sort of decks use.

Castle Ardenvale 7

Now this looks pretty bad when compared to Adanto, the First Fort in that it costs an extra mana to activate and has no lifelink on the token. The thing is that Adanto costs a card and needs some hoops jumping through to get to. Castle Ardenvale can just swap for another land in most cases fairly painlessly. You don't have to play a low powered 1/1 lifelink for W card to get to your juicy utility land, you just have it right there. Now this is a pretty bad return, you are not winning that many games but paying 5 mana for a 1/1 but then you were not doing that with a 1/1 lifelink at four mana either. Both are shocking tempo but they do give a little extra edge. The very low cost of this card makes that edge worth it. As with all the other lands, this is comfortably playable in a lot of cube decks, it is just minor enough that it might not be worth the slot in the cube itself. Aggro decks will play this all the way up to control decks, which cannot be said of Legion's Landing. It is probably the most meaningful of the cycle in that it directly affects the board without being situational at all or needing support. You need creatures in hand for Garenbrig and you need them in play for Embereth. This will be annoying to play against for planeswalker plays, it will be really good with equipment and anthems against attrition decks too. It will take the edge off a flood and provide options and gas for the longer duels. Even if we are past the days where counterpost can get it done this is still a vast upgrade on Kjeldoran Outpost! Most decks with a decent plains count are just going to be happy swapping this with a plains and slightly powering up their deck.

Lucky Clover 1

While this has no hope of joy in singleton formats presently it came very close to being a fairly abusive deck in standard. When you freely fork things that find land, Wish for things, and add mana you can go off pretty quickly and impressively. This was nearly another Wake style deck for standard but it seems a couple of pieces short having seen the whole set now. For singleton formats we will need rather a lot more adventure cards and so we probably need to be waiting decades before we can dig this up and have our fun.

Shepherd of the Flock 2

While a little fair Usher to Safety is cheap and useful. Having the 3/1 body to back that up reduces some of the narrow and situational issues such cards typically face. Overall this is still the wrong way round to be of much use in most places. You want to be able to bounce stuff after curving with your 3/1 two drop not hold off on making your curve play so as to have Usher up. A 3/1 is also a fairly poor 2 drop these days and isn't what you want to do on turn two if possible which makes the utility and convenience of this lower than it looks.

Fae of Wishes 6

Well isn't this a fascinating little offering. While this is technically also backwards in terms of how you want to play it you can bounce it having lead with the creature. Indeed, you can repeatedly do this making it a bit of a Forbid! Pay 8 mana, discard two cards and get any Wish target as many times as you desire! Not an impressive rate but sufficiently flexible to offset that. A 1/4 flier for 2 is pretty solid. It gives a bit of offensive control or a lot of defense. It is then also a discard outlet and a way of Fogging things like Jitte charges or lifelink gains. Fairly hard to kill as far as useful two drops go. Granted is expensive and slow but it is also very powerful. It should win any game that has gone long and remains equal and it should really mess up a lot of linear strategies in games where you can construct a sideboard. Given how early and useful the body is and how powerful Granted is eventually in the game this should be pretty impressive in cube. The main concern I have for this is complexity regarding rulings. Every different type of format in cube will require a new set of rules as to how Wishes work and what they can target. It will mean this card is a lot better in sealed deck than in booster draft a lot of the time and other unusual scalings. Mostly it will just be a little tedious covering rules for Wish interactions. The way this would work in my cube isn't all that impressive sadly as the good cards will all be main deck. The wish will find something poor. It is pretty hard to draft good sideboard tech as I highly avoid putting any sort of sideboard cards into my cube. I think this will be a lovely tool for constructed lists but for drafting in my cube it is going to have to pull most of it's weight with the dork and not the adventure and that feels unlikely to make the cut.

Stormfist Crusader 6.5

This is somewhere between a Dark Confidant and a Goblin Guide. This is a better beater than Confidant and a better means of retaining value than Guide! In an aggressive deck this should be great in the way that both Guide and Confidant are. Your cards cost less and so you should gain more from card draw, especially that which comes at a life cost! That ups the damage output of your threat by 50%! You also get first go on the extra cards giving you a tempo edge on that value. A 2/2 menace is also a reasonably relevant threat. All told this seems like an impressive little card. Sadly I think it is a bit narrow and gold to really shine in the drafting cube despite being a pretty impressive card. Worth testing and likely something that will show up a bunch outside of cube draft.

The Great Henge 7.5

Well this is very powerful indeed. Normally I don't like value, or ramp, on a big top end card like this. I want to win with my big card, directly and ideally quickly. What makes this different is that it is impressive threat diversity. You can flop this out and assure a win over time without just conceding to a Wrath of God. I feel like it is a bit of a Primeval Titan in the way that even if you get Wrathed the mana and card advantage you gained typically puts the game out of reach. This can pretty easily come out for five or less mana and instantly return you a card. From that point on you are just getting more efficient dorks with more mana while gaining cards and life. This just hits on every single angle and all it needs is dorks. Ideally one fairly fat one to help power it out and then more just good ones to follow, maybe things like Walking Ballista to milk the counters synergy. Two mana a turn is worth at least 3 mana investment. An ongoing card draw per dork is reasonably well defined as a four mana effect. A bonus counter on your stuff has to be more than two mana and a couple of life a turn is probably also worth about two mana. This is at least 11 mana worth of cards, rolled together making it more like 15 mana considering the Harmonize you add to that to take acount of the reduced card cost. All things considered this is a very bargainous card! This pays for itself in mana in at least 5 turns, probably more like 3 in most cases. Often it will instantly repay the card cost too. This is so good it doesn't really seem like you need it to stick around to have been worthwhile. The only thing that seems even close to bad about this card is that it will sit in hand uncastable should all your high power dorks die quickly and you don't then have the mana to play it. Ghalta would wind up like that now and again making it a bit of a win more card. This is a bit win more but it is more win differently and so I think it should be fine on that front and prove to be a strong tool in green's arsenal. The way cube is presently I think I prefer this to Craterhoof Behemoth. Granted Behemoth has become less of a big deal in green and has been gradually doing so for a while but still, a fairly big claim. Behemoth needs more mana to play and a far more developed board to win the game. That makes Behemoth doubly riskier than this. Henge lets you play much more in the way of stand alone powerful cards and should result in more powerful and more consistent decks than those looking to win with Behemoth. This could now be the card that pulls you into a big green deck.

Irencrag Pyromancer 4

This simply comes down to support. It is very easy to add a lot of the right sort of draw cards to a cube to make this easy to trigger. If this is easy to trigger it is pretty nutty. If you can fire off multiple Bolts with this then you are winning. You can do that in fairly short order when you are setup to do so. While very potent and something that would mesh well with all sorts of things like prowess and Young Pyromancer I still feel like this is a bit narrow and fiddly to really be worth fitting into cube. It is not like red is light on good things to do with three mana. I will build around this for sure, it has Juri En written all over it! Turn three this plus Gitaxian Probe. Perhaps a Gush in my opponents turn. Any cantrip on my next turn followed by Brainstorm in my opponents turn! Four Bolts in very little time and for very little mana alongside a boatload of card draw! This certainly has a strong ceiling well enabled by the naughtier blue cards in the game.

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