Wednesday 2 October 2019
Throne of Eldraine Preliminary Review Part XVI
Gingerbread Cabin 4
A bit of a Khalni Garden in food form. Two for one permanent making lands have proved potent although this needing to be the 4th forest does reduce the potential abuses for such things. An easily tutorable land with 3 life on offer is a pretty nice thing to have even without any synergies. This should see a bunch of play ranging from ways to hose aggro decks, ways to empower sac outlets, and I am sure many many more. Too narrow and low power for a slot in the drafting cube but a land I expect to be showing up rather a lot in constructed singleton lists.
Brazen Borrower 7
Clearly an impressively rounded card packing a lot of power. A chunk better than Nimble Obstructionist but probably not quite as strong as the mighty Clique. Borrower is exceptional planeswalker control as are most of the flash fliers. You will however find that it will deal with a lot less walkers if it goes on an adventure any turns prior to playing it. This in turn means this is either rather more of a five drop or a 3 drop without the adventure if played as the more controlling player. As a tempo card you can more happily just curve out both parts with this and that will be fine. Due to the low cost of this as a bounce spell you will just fire it off almost anytime you have spare mana and a reasonable target a bit like a Remand. Just a bit of stalling. Overall the mana cost on this card isn't all that impressive. It is one shy of a Dream Eater for a lot less overall card. Venser is closer in power and he costs a mana less and bounces things rather better. What Borrower brings to the party is flexibility being a two drop, a three drop, both if you want it, and fairly often a five drop too for that vast felxibility. It is all instant speed making it great disruption and highly convenient for any archetype. Not the most exciting card to look at but the kind of card that will lead to interesting games and plays. Why it is a mythic I have no idea, I am sure this should be swapped with the Wish faerie...
Improbable Alliance 4
As a build around I think this has a fair amount of potential. If you build to support it which a lot of Izzet tempo decks naturally do anyway it will be nutty good. Compared to Bitterblossom you can have faeries quicker, and then at twice the rate without any life cost. You even get a silly loot should the game somehow go that long with all your dorks. Much better in a lot of ways than Young Pyromancer, the tokens fly, and enchantments are a lot harder to remove than 2/1s are. Pyromancer does have an easier time of making the dorks but still, I am a fan of this and will be playing it a bunch. The main issue it has is a reliance on a specific few cards that can cheaply draw two at instant speed. That and Gitaxian Probe for the dream turn two play. If you also want Gush and Brainstorm and the like it starts to get very demanding on your picks. The ceiling is great and the average should also be good if built with properly but it does have the issue of being a card that does nothing of much use by itself. Too much support for a gold card to have any hope in the drafting cube but otherwise I expect this to do very well.
Mantle of Tides 3
A rare example of a cheap blue tempo card. This is really surprisingly good. Turn one this, turn two Fblthp the Lost and bam, a 2/3! This turns something like a Looter il-Kor from an annoyance into an urgent danger. While the ability to get ongoing buffs to your dorks for no mana is decent what really pushes this is the combat trick aspect of it. You can attack with your whole team and your opponent has to block as if anything can get +1/+2 at the drop of a hat. Anything such as an Opt is now a combat trick. A Divining Top in play allows you to re-equip at instant speed and no mana cost. Blue doesn't really do aggro that much in the drafting cube and this is still probably a little narrow for such things but it should see a bunch of play in more focused lists. This is a low cost, low risk, card with decent tempo, synergy support and options all going for it.
Fabled Passage 8
Another take on Prismatic Vista. This is generally a little worse as you are really looking to make other lands for your first three drops. This means that even if you have three other lands you can't use this for a free shuffle or fixing until they have been laid. Still, most control and midrange decks will be reasonably OK with that. Extra fixing and the like is always welcome. It will probably still see play in a lot of aggro decks too as they really like fixing. Sometimes they don't even get a fetchable dual land in their colours at which point this looks like the third best sac land they can play. Much as this is the weakest of the 12 sac lands I will have in cube it is a very welcome addition. They are the most played cards and they are arguably overly powerful. This eases the strain on them and helps support things that want stuff in the bin or shuffles for the deck. I really like how this plays so differently to the other saclands as well being the only one that is painless but also one that you have to consider heavily how you will play and what you will get when you crack it.
Kenrith's Transformation 5
This seems really good but it also seems like it is probably too situational to get much play. The ability to upgrade a crap dork of your own or scale back a bomb of your opponents for just two mana seems great. If used as removal you are not even that much at risk of failing to draw your card as that would require the opponent to sac their big threat off and forgo getting it back or having a 3/3. Turn one Clockwork Beetle, turn two Transformation and in for 5! There are some cute things you can do with this that is for sure. I really like it. The cost is low being zero in cards and only two in mana. It is both a buff and a removal spell of sorts too. Green is desperate for disruptive removal and any playable card with options is nice. All told I am still not entirely sure where I play this or exactly what I am doing with it. A card I will test out for sure but I wouldn't be at all shocked if it wound up doing fairly little in cube.
Foreboding Fruit 2
A decent card but a little too demanding on the food trigger and just too much worse in general than Night's Whisper or Read the Bones.
Rosethorn Halberd 1
This is a decent low risk ongoing buff for the initial cost but sadly the re-equip cost is prohibitive. At 3 it would have been reasonable and might have had some play in aggressive green decks alongside things such as Rancor. As it stands it is just a bit of a poor aura. Who cares if it survives having your creature removed if you can never re-equip it? It might get a tiny bit of action based on being an artifact and not an enchantment but that sounds like a very deep deck, and not a good one at that.
Locthwain Gargoyle 2
Cheap, decent stats, decent potential. This can hold the ground early, threaten the odd walker in the midgame, add to artifact synergies and then be a win condition with infinite mana! All a bit magic cloud land. A lot of the time this is a Wall of Wood. Not often worth the card cost! You have to really want a lot of what this offers to be playing it. The activation cost to make it relevant is just so expensive it prohibits normal use. Still a lot of card for the mana and a fairly wide range on potential homes.
So Tiny 3
Now this is a card with the right price and speed. It is very soft removal in that it only really deals with things looking to attack rather than things with ongoing effects, activated abilities, EtBs or other such delights. That makes it rather weaker compared to other one mana removal but none the less pretty good compared to other blue "removal" options. The scaling on this allows it to deal with early threats and potentially even big late ones. In the right situation it will act as a combat trick and turn a poor trade into a chump. Great for saving planeswalkers too. Sadly I think it is a little too low powered and situational to last, blue will either play removal from other colours or make do with bounce, counter and steal effects instead resulting in this seeing too little play. It does still seem like the best card in this category of giving a permanent -X/-0 debuff.
Deathless Knight 2
Quite an easy recursion target and as such something you are fairly happy just running into things and trading with. Four power with haste is reasonable, it isn't great but it is action right away which is what you want mostly. This turns out to be one of the better ones from this cycle. It is not a tempo play really despite the haste and aggressive statting just because it is fairly low powered at four mana. It is much more of a value card which does ultimately make it a little off theme with itself. Not entirely sure where I would play this but it probably will have a home somewhere. There is just too much this card does and too many unique elements to it for it not to see play somewhere.
Return of the Wildspeaker 4
This seems pretty potent. It is an instant Overrun that also has alternate utility. While it doesn't give trample or work on humans that is mostly OK, green has the least humans and instant is broadly rather better than trample. This is either a powerful finisher or a blowout combat trick that will be hard to recover from. It is also a much better version of Soul's Majesty that is harder to get disrupted with lack of targeting and being instant. Both modes do need dorks but in very different forms and settings. While this does seem powerful and flexible I think I would still just rather run a threat that can win a game or that provides value or both. That includes most of the good walkers and some of the better creatures. The decks that are taller and work best with the draw tend to not be the best houses for Overrun effects either so this is rarely a perfect fit. Powerful and versatile but not really what I am looking for in a cube setting.