Monday, 6 April 2020

Ikoria, Lair of Behemoths Preliminary Review Part II

Gyruda, Doom of Depths 2

Only even cards is a big ask. Too much for a limited deck in most cases which makes this not much of a companion in cubes. It is not unplayable without companion but a little unreliable. The six mana 6/6 is OK and the Reanimate effect on top of that is great. Sadly limiting it to a fairly random set of 8 cards and only even dorks makes it too random to be worth it. This will outclass The Scarab God more than you would expect but it will be a Craw Wurm far too often thus making the average far far lower than that of the God.

Lutri, the Spellchaser 9

This might be too much for cube. All this costs to play is the cost of picking it, which may be nothing in a sealed deck. A 3/2 flash you just get for free is good. Really good. Better than Rogue Refiner by a pretty big margin when you are not in the market for energy. Lets just reiterate that incase the significane has not sunk in. The floor on this card is a significant amount higher than that of a Rogue Refiner which is itself a very strong card. If Lutri copies a burn spell or something like a Ponder then the card is a joke. This would be close to enough without the companion mode due to the power of the fork and the passable floor of easily cast 3/2 with flash. Being a free card you can just have is absurd. Much like for EDH, this might just need banning in cube. It is also in the colours least in need of a big generic boost like Lutri affords. A green white dork you got for free might have been a needed help to struggling colours... oops. I think I have only rated two non-land cards as 9/10 since Deathrite Shaman. They both cost 0 mana. Force of Negation and Once Upon a Time. That is the level of silly we are talking here in singleton land.

Void Beckoner 0

Just to expensive on all accounts. I like the design but it is not for cube.

Vadrok, Apex of Thunder 6.5

The floor on this is a bad Mantis Rider and while that card is good it really needs to be for a triple colour card. The floor here with Vadrok is well below par what with being three colours too. Luckily the mutate is rather spicier. It drops the colours down to two which is a big deal. The hybrid makes it less narrow than a typical two colour gold card too. It potentially lets you attack with flying right away making it reasonable at planeswalker control. Really it is all about that mutate trigger though. Recasting any non-creature at 3 CMC or less is amazing. It can reduce the effective cost of this card down to 1. Vadrok is part Snapcaster Mage and part Bloodbraid Elf. Even just getting back a Lightning Bolt or Ponder is going to be pretty great. Assuming you can consistently mutate and onto a creature no bigger than a 2/2 Vadrok is in the same league as Snapcaster and Bloodbraid. If however you cannot then the value falls away quickly. I expect that it will be tough to always have a target but not too hard to engineer one. There are a lot of humans in these colours and the kinds of deck looking to recast non-creature spells from the bin is not the kind of deck that has lots of creatures to mutate onto! I suspect that Vadrok will wind up being reasonably middle of the curve (as per the cube, so average of the really good cards) when all is said and done. When he works the power will be impressive but the slight conditional and narrow parts of his design shall keep the overall down. It might even be polar enough to cut. Make no mistake though, when this works it will do so in brutal ways. You can go from having a 1/1 in play and facing down planeswalkers, blockers and threats to facing nothing and having a relevant card in play.

Pollywog Symbiote 1

Despite both being English speaking this translates poorly in the UK. This makes me think of questionable children's toys  and jam logos, not tadpoles. Whoopsie. A nice little mutate enabler for such things but as ever, narrow set mechanics don't occupy enough slots in cubes for cards like this to come close to worth it.  I'll build the mutate deck at some point, it will be fun and well below par. This will probably be in said deck and that will likely be the one time I play it in singleton.

Umori, the Collector 2

Less limiting than those with CMC restrictions but also rather less payoff. A 4/5 for 4 is OK and certainly a lot better for no card cost but it is still way worse than Lutri both at floor level. Vanilla stats scale poorly as you go up in CMC. Cost reduction is nice but the more expensive the thing it is on the less exciting it is. Umori might help ramp a six drop out but it is worlds worse than any ramp you get online turns one or two. I would almost just rather have trample or something. Prior to adventures I would pretty much have written this off. Much as there are loads of decks you want a lot of dorks in those few non creature cards tend to be the most important cards. An all creatures deck is going to be lacking in several areas. You might be able to do an all artifact deck that makes use of Umori in constructed but creatures is the only thing this is working with in cube. Even in the constructed setting it doesn't sound all that exciting. You have cost reducers a plenty at less than four mana.

Titanoth Rex 1

Cute design, bit bland, fair and clumsy for cube.

Snapdax, Apex of the Hunt 5

Much as a 3/5 doublestrike for 4 is quite scary it is just a dork and three colours, either of which pretty much rule it out for cube potential. The floor on this is too low, even though it is still quite powerful. The mutate gets scary however. You can clear out blockers and attack with a hasting doublestrike dork. Potentially one with more than three power and extra evasive things going on. Snapdax has some potential to be like an Embercleave. I think that it has slightly less chance than Vadrok of lasting in the cube. It has all the same issues while also being pricier and in less appealing colours. It still has quite a wide range where it could be a cube bomb or dud. My guess is towards the dud end as conditional cards generally tend but having no experience with the mechanic as yet I don't feel comfortable making that call!

Gemrazer 6.5

A four mana 4/4 trample reach is not a good floor but it is fine. The key words make it useful in a couple of places. The mutate is nice though. Green is easily the most reliable colour to mutate into with most non-human dorks as well as the most dorks. Gemrazer offers some utility in removal as well as some potential to augment with useful stats or buff up a weenie making it quite versatile. Gemrazer can add trample, it can add +3/+3 to  an attacker. It can be a Naturalize or it can just be a decent dork. That is all a lot of utility without too much in the way of concessions on power or tempo. I think this has a shot in cube over cards like Thrashing Brontodon. This is a more relevant body, has more utility, and isn't a massive cost to use as removal. It may just be worse than a cycling Naturalize, Acidic Slime etc. though. As with many of these close call mutate cards, really it needs testing.

Grimdancer 3

Decent amount of power and good flexibility. Much as I like this a lot in principle it feels like it winds up being just a dork too much of the time. I want real threat levels of some assured value with my cards three and up on mana.

Sprite Dragon 7

This seems a little narrow but foolishly powerful. While being both gold and prowess themed should make it doubly narrow it just so happens that prowess is the main thing this particular set of gold does. As such this is still in the playable range of narrow for cube. This is basically a Stormchaser Mage that trades a small amount of early survivability for a vast swathe of potency a little after. This can end games so quickly. You can go this on turn two, Bauble, Bauble, Gitaxian Probe and in for four. Then untap and throw three burns spells at face, in for another seven with this and likely have that be game there and then. This gets so threatening so fast, you can lay it in the mid game and have it be relevant immediately with some follow up. You can just lay it turn two and force an answer else your opponent is risking it getting too big to handle immediately on the following turn. You need to respect this and it really doesn't need much support to make it worth playing. Quite a scary little beater.

Brokkos, Apex of Forever 2

A recursive fatty! The issue I have with Brokkos is that he is more of a three colour card. You need to get him in the bin before you can play him for two colours of mana. Sure, you can loot or mill him there but those extra restrictions or the extra colours massively take away from the cube playability of Brokkos. Then he fails the just a dork test. Pretty easy to handle. He is only really a scary card in grindy games where most things are going on in combat. I can't see Brokkos making it, it doesn't even look great for themed decks setup to best use Brokkos.

Crystal Giant 1

Quite a lot of card for the mana but slow, inconsistently what you need, and ultimately just a dork that dies to a lot of removal in the unlikely even that it is of high importance this needs dealing with.

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