Tuesday 14 April 2020

Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths Preliminary Review Part VIII

Blitz of the Thunder-Raptor 2

Powerful, scaling and generally efficient and on-theme. Sadly the mild conditional and narrow aspects of this I think rule it out for most cube applications. Cheap cards with general effects like this want to be more convenient. Odds on this is not a useful turn two play and that makes it a less appealing cheap card.

Weaponize the Monsters 7

This is somewhat to Goblin Bombardment as Molten Vortex is to Seismic Assault. Going from zero mana to activate to anything at all is a big reduction in convenience, abuse, combo potential and all that jazz. What this does to make up for that, and what Molten Vortex fails to do, is increase the efficiency on damage per card return. This is twice the output of a Bombardment. The first dork put to death deals two for 2R compared to one for 1R. The second takes you to four damage for 4R compared to two damage for 1R again. In longer games this rate greatly favours Weaponize the Monsters. As your mana concerns diminish and your card resources are more precious this is the reach and utility tool you want most. Anything that compares favourably to Bombardment is a big win, that card is pretty oppressive. The thing is that this does a lot less for you early. Once Bombardment is in play it is such tempo and convenience. Weaponize has none of that early utility, to use it is going to involve much more planning, you are not just going to get that free incidental damage from any dork that would otherwise be going to the bin. Despite their similarities the two cards work fairly differently. Bombardment is still king but this certainly has some teeth. It is what you want more in a bunch of situations and should still be perfectly fine to run in most decks. Red did't lack reach but this gives it more. Siege-Gang Commander is a potent card and Weaponize gives you that utility throughout the game.

Essence Symbiote 1

I guess I put this in a green mutate themed deck but it seems worse than the Egg being narrower and costlier. That is the only place this has hope in.

Jubilant Skybonder 1

Rather too low impact for what cube can offer these days. A small body that protects fliers a bit from spot removal. I want lords or great stand alone threats at this cost. I don't think this is enough for a 40 card maindeck space in any flier themed deck.

Parcelbeast 0

Coiling Oracle effects every turn! Sadly the mana to activate and the need of mutating this into play makes it all a bit slow, conditional, and risky. Cube just doesn't allow for luxury cards like this.

Fight as One 6.5

This I find compelling. It can dominate a combat step or do a lot to combat a mass removal effect. At one target it should do OK work, when it gets two relevant targets it should be a colossal blowout. Being good against most kinds of removal as well as having relevant combat applications helps this to act like Blossoming Defense, having the potential to target two of your things makes it possible to act like a Forked Bolt or a Selfless Spirit! Well worth testing, I have some expectation this lasts. It is just lots of versatility and applicability given the type of card is it. The cost is right for that too!

The Ozolith 4

Rather too narrow for general use in cube however this has some potential with things like Walking Ballista. I can see this creeping into Hardened Scales types of deck. It acts as a good store for counters against wrath effects. It probably has some naughty things you can do with it beyond that as well. Cheap and potentially abusive, one to keep an eye on in many formats.

Heartless Act 5

This is probably decent enough removal, likely decently better than Doom Blade. The issue is that no one really wants 2 mana removal that hits dorks and nothing else. General purpose removal is king in cube presently and even things like Go for the Throat and Fatal Push are seeing little action. Ideally this needed to be able to take counters off planeswalkers, that would really propel this in power and make it a solid cube card.

Reptillian Reflection 1

Narrow for one. It is also a "synergy" card that only takes and gives nothing back. Sure it is powerful but it is just a beater. Your cycling deck is likely not in need of a cost efficient dork. It does at least make the aggro cycling Boros deck look increasingly more viable.

Garrison Cat 4

Just another Doomed Traveler. Worse in terms of keywords, perhaps in some decks better for types. Certainly a boost in redundancy if these kinds of two in one dorks for a single mana are your bag. Solid support card for constructed decks. Too low in power for general drafting use.

Bushmeat Poacher 0

Impressive for a common card. This is too low power too far up the curve for a support card for cube. Shame though, a decade or so ago this would have been exciting stuff.

Zenith Flare 2

Yet another potential win condition for a cycling deck. Fluctuator. Cycle away at least 20 cards. This. Win. Doubly good as a wincon as it is reasonable removal up to that point. Unplayable outside a full synergy deck though.

Jegantha, the Wellspring 1

Another achievable companion condition, especially in 5 colour green style decks where you aim for the condition already outside of your green cards. With most of those being ramp and fixing it is pretty easy to lose the GG ones. While I harp on about the value of a free card a lot a five mana 5/5 is losing value rapidly when compared to cheaper dorks. It is still amazing but rather less than you might hope. It is low impact and high cost making the risk of playing it large and the returns low. As such it will be one of the last things you do and thus often won't be coming out before the game is over one way or another. If I am not all that excited about it as a free card then I am certainly not excited about putting it in my deck. The mana generation is nice but there are so many safer and better ways to go about getting such things. Big ramp, and indeed unusual ramp, like this on both accounts typically want building with very much in mind. There is no point in a five mana ramp card if your curve ends at 6 or even 7 really. You are better off with cheaper ramps for a bit less. So, you build your deck to make use of a massive five mana ramp. That sadly means that when Jengantha inevitably fails to stay in play your deck is awful. As such, I don't see this one making much waves in cube. EDH maybe, standard too. Companion is hard to ignore and big mana seems the name of the game.

Emergent Ultimatum 3

Gifts Ungiven meets Tooth and Nail. Good job they ruled out the Eldrazi titans and other Ultimatums from this as it would all have been a little dull. As it stands the card feels pretty interesting. It should win most games in which it resolves. That really should be the case for all these cards what with being so hard to cast. At least this works nicely with itself. Including big cards to get will fit in with ramping towards this. I don't have much love of Tooth and Nail in cube as I find running more threats to generally work out better. This feels worse in the sense that you don't have full control but much better in that it casts things, is two CMC less, and can do things other than creatures. I expect to run this here and there. Obviously too narrow for most cubes. With lots of the right fatties and ramp you could certainly play it and have some fun. There is no shortage of power in this card that is for sure.

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