Monday, 13 January 2020

Theros: Beyond Death Preliminary Review Part X

Thryx, the Sudden Storm 7

This seems pretty good for cube. A flying 4/5 flash dork is exactly what control decks want. You just want to be able to represent counter magic while having the ability to develop the board with a reasonable blocker come threat. Resto Angel, Avacyn, and Dream Eater are some of the most commonly seen dorks in control decks. A list to which Thryx fits right in. The ability is also fantastic. It is brutal against control and fine elsewhere. Being able to hold up countermagic as you deploy your top end a turn or so quicker is lovely. Four mana Teferi, Hero of Dominaria sounds like a very good deal! Just having your big spells being uncounterable is so savage is the mirror. I don't think Thryx is amazing but he is very suitable and as such I expect him to get a bunch of play. Probably edging out cards like Cavalier of Gales. Not only is he good in control he is great in midrange and again, is especially good against control opposition. Mostly this is just a big flier but that is a classically good way to win games of magic!

Archon of Sun's Grace 4

This is a whole lot of card but it is too narrow for cube presently. If the enchantment count got high enough this would be one of the first cards in to synergize with that. The floor of this card is pretty reasonable as it is. Churning out 2/2 flying lifelink tokens gets out of hand fast! One trigger and this is worth it, two and this is pretty nuts.

Whirlwind Denial 6

Very interesting counterspell that has a pretty reasonable floor of being Disallow and a nice ceiling of completely shutting down combos and big plays. This is quite splashable and quite firm as far as soft counters go. I don't see this getting multiple instances of value very often but I think it will be utterly game ending most of the times that it does. That on top of it being a fairly reasonable and playable iteration of an otherwise reasonable counterspell make this certainly viable for a number of cubes and worthy of some testing.

Uro, Titan of Nature's Wrath 6

Interesting design on this cycle of two that I am a fan of. Certainly a nice Titan feel about them as a result. This Simic Titan is two quite different cards all told. There is a three mana Explore with 3 bonus life and there is a 6/6 with Titan like value triggers for 4 that you can only play from the bin. Either you just use the first part, you mill or discard it and just use the latter or you do all of it. There is so much going on it is pretty hard to account for the power of the end result. It is good, it is a lot of card but I think it is a bit like the new Polukranos in that it is a little too awkward to really make a big impact. It is gold, it is colour intense as well as requiring things to be in the bin. It might need loot and mill synergies. Yes, it is big, yes it generates lots of value, yes it recurs, but somehow it isn't a massive threat. The scariest thing it does is probably draw cards, perhaps the life gain in certain mathups. A 6/6, even at four mana just isn't all that impressive. It is too easy to kill when you need the value and too easy to stop when you need it to be a threat. It is even liable to getting got by a Deathrite Shaman or other graveyard exile card before it can ever be a thing in play. So while I like the design and cannot deny that there is a lot going on with this card I am not very impressed with it and expect it not to see enough action in cube. It ins't good enough at any of it's specific roles so just has to be outstanding in a general sense which feels unlikely. Seems like it might be a big player in standard though.

Careless Celebrant 6

Pretty solid defensive tool for the midrange and control decks. Seemingly not enough power or convenience for the aggro decks to get all that excited. You want this to hold off attackers as it is too savage a 2 for 1 to attack into early. I fear it is perhaps a little narrow and unbelieveably a little low powered to really stand the test of time in the cube but it is certainly a pushed yet cheap and clean card.

Kiora Bests the Sea God 5

Now tokens don't normally scale all that well in size but this one having hexproof makes it unconcerned about most of the usual issues. A 7 mana 8/8 hexproof is a long way from good though, it needs evasion at the very least. Phase II of the saga does at least provide two turns or 16 damages worth of evasion for the token. The third phase is pretty spicey too, it is loads of value, tempo, disruption, and further helps to ensure the token is connecting. Kiora certainly does do one on Thassa if this card represents events accurately!? It is a lot of stuff for 7 mana but it is slow and perhaps not the best means of bouncing back. Mostly I am wary of the extreme price tag on this but otherwise it seems pretty impressive. Sufficiently so that I plan to test it so that I am able to rule it out with some more confidence.

Kroxa, Titan of Death's Hunger 5.5

Pretty much all the things that put me off Uro also turn me off to this. It is needy and a bit aimless. It is even less powerful than Uro. The early mode of Kroxa isn't a thing you are super keen to do early and it scales less well. Certainly also a powerful card and not one I am ruling out, just one I expect not to perform in testing. Even without making it into the drafting cube both these Titans will have roles to play in many other places.

Fateful End 4

Well, I prefer it to Magma Jet... still pretty arse though. Certainly not a card I like more than a simple Lightning Strike. Basically adding to a card's effect and cost when the original effect is as pure as direct damage serves to make that card worse. Only if you get a lot more extra than the mana cost. In this case at scry 3 I might be interested but even at scry 2 I think the card is still just a bad Lightning Strike. Burn simply wants to be efficient and tacking crap on makes it less efficient burn. This is a fine card and it has a power level that is pretty decent. It is just not something that is optimal. Effectively off theme with itself.

Soul-Guide Lantern 6

A midway point between Tormod's Crypt and Relic of Progenitus. This can be no card cost or it can be efficient, effective disruption. Possibly low cost enough that it is a good addition to drafting cubes. Certainly something that is showing up in sideboards all over the place.

Alsied of Life's Bounty 2

This might well cut it as a support card for some unusual decks but as a stand alone card this is lacking. Low stats and a protective one off ability you need to have mana open for. No thanks. Compare this to either of the other W Bodyguard cards and it looks pretty poor. Lifelink on a 1/1 counts for very little. Being an enchantment dork counts for little too if you are not a good or useful card. The only thing this really does of note is protect enchantments but that isn't stopping the card from being weak either. As with being an enchantment, that is only good if you are starting from a good place.

Altar of the Pantheon 0

Cute, but also poo. A Borderpost does most of what this does but better. Three mana ramp cards need to be nuts and some narrow crap and super situational minor life gain are laughable attempts to tip that scale. Llanowar Tribe taps for two more mana, adds two more devotion, and gets to do combat.

Taranika, Akroan Veteran 2

This hits like a truck. Much as it has a lot of power and potential I don't see it making the cube. It goes one for one with most removal. It is not all that impressive in combat itself and it needs another attacker to gain the main attraction of this card. Yes, we can hit for 7 of which some is indestructible and potentially has other scaling. We can also just be a 3/3 and that isn't enough.

Skophos, Maze-Warden 0

Cute flavour but awful.

Eidolon of Obstruction 6

I quite like this and think that cube is one of the places it will be best. It feels a lot like Thalia (the original two drop) but less polar. Thalia ruins control and combo decks but is fairly minor against midrange and aggro. This will do a touch less overall but it will do so far more evenly across the board which is going to make it a nice card to have around. I look forward to seeing planeswalkers made on curve into this and passing the turn unused! I like the ongoing potential for this to disrupt but that sounds fairly wishful, the card is not exactly robust and most walkers can deal with it themselves eventually.

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