Tuesday, 9 June 2020

Core 2021 Preliminary Reviews Part I

Chandra, Heart of Fire 7

This looks really solid. Shock on a +1 is great. It does not have a massive impact on turn five but over a few turns it should really dominate being so versatile and direct. Starting on 5 loyalty helps empower the Shock too as it means it is going to be very hard to attack Chandra down right away. In cube especially there are way more small targets on the go and far less in the way of single big threats. Taking out other walks or just representing face damage are all also powerful and scary things the Shock will frequently do for you. The other +1 is pretty mental! It is so much card advantage you will not need to use it that much to be pulling well ahead. Certainly it has limitations in that you want to be using it when your hand is light or empty and you can only use what you can play that turn. Even so, it will do a lot of work very quickly. It isn't even terrible as the first activation of Chandra if you have not laid a land that turn and have a reasonable number of one drops in your deck (in addition of course to not having relevant things in your hand). A decent tempo removal option and a big hitting card advantage +1 are a powerful and complementary pair. The ultimate is good too! You get there in four turns and it should end the game in most cases. Unless of course you are a red deck with no burn, in which case you will have to just Shock them to death with the Chandra or win with your three extra cards a turn... The only things working against this Chandra are plenty of other good five drop red walkers and her relatively minimal immediate impact on the game. The latter is pretty standard for planeswalkers across the board so not sure I can really hold it against her.

Demonic Embrace 4

There are some serious perks to this card but it is also a little misleading. Cards like Rancor and Gryf's Boon mitigate the inherent drawback of aura cards by being cheap and by generally costing no cards when the thing they enchant is dealt with. Due to needing discard Demonic Embrace fails to be recursive in a way that affords card advantage. Being three mana also makes it not cheap! The recursion is much more along the lines of inevitability and reliability which is a fine set of traits more akin to Moldervine Cloak of old, it is just not to be likened to those Rancor types of aura. Flying and +3 power is pretty mental though. A 3/1 flying haste dork would be great. Obviously this needs a dork to target and is closer to mutate that a 3/1 flyer as a result. This is powerful and will see play when enough synergies line up. Just needing a dork to play it on however makes it too inconvenient and fiddly to stand up in mine and most other cubes.

Basri's Acolyte 0

Bad in almost all the ways despite looking like it is viable at first glance. This is too low impact as a four drop even at the ceiling. The floor of being a 2/3 lifelink when you have no targets for the counters is utterly unforgivable.

Double Vision 1

Low power and high cost. I feel like if I am bothering with a card like this that I would go that little extra distance and pack a Thousand Year Storm or something. This card is needy, narrow, slow, and just not what I am looking for often, if at all. I likely prefer Mirari, I definitely prefer Pyromancer's Goggles and I probably also prefer Ral, Storm's Conduit. The latter of which is the only one close to rounded enough for general cube use.

Mangara, the Diplomat 2

This looks good at first glance. It shuts down a lot of strategies and offers to gain a lot of value if not. The problems this has are that it is very easy to trade one for one without gaining any advantage and that it puts all the choices in the hands of your opponent. The inconveniences caused by Mangara will not only be at the whim of the opponent but also fairly often not relevant. The most common numbers (mode) of attackers is 0 and 1 and the same is nearly true for spells. Two comes in before none on spells but not by loads. The point is that this low rate of hits combined with the choice being given away means your opponent can easily play around it. Save up that big turn for when it kills you flying under Mangara's radar until then. Sure, the average number of attackers and spells cast per turn is closer to 2 than the mode but that is where the giving away of control is so killer for the prospects of this card. Most of those turns with lots of spells or attacks are the ones that end the game too so giving up a bunch of cards starts to matter rather less. A 2/4 lifelink doesn't do enough as a body either at the four mana price tag. Disruption dorks want to be cheap like hate bears or they want to be assured and potent disruption like Grand Arbiter Augustin!

Basri Ket 7

This is pretty disappointing design due to having such an extreme range on floor to ceiling. Without dorks in play this does nothing. It is terrible. It might be ignored. It might gain four or five life. At best it limps to the emblem and might not even win off that without finding some dorks to speed it up a bit with. If you play this off the back of a turn one one drop, turn two one drop one drop opener then you are going to murder most other draws. Despite the blank nature of this card without dork support, the extreme power and scaling potential for Basri as well as how well it fits with the general aggressive white plan make it seem like it is going to wind up with an average performance easily of the grade needed for cube. It is not uncommon to have board stalls in white that get pretty dork heavy. It is equally common for white decks to pack Anthem effects. Just five dorks and an Anthem in play means you can lay Basri late game and have him add 10 extra power to the attack immediately. That is some kind of nutty Ball Lightning style reach and closing power. White really lacks that haste, burst or surprise damage and Basri brings that to the table for you fairly effectively. The +1 is perfectly decent too. It lets you safely attack and turns non threat early drops into actually scary cards. This means you can prevent the need to over extend into mass removal. It means you can break board stalls eventually without the need of lots of non-token attackers. It might put in work to saving you reequip costs. Basri seems scary. You only play him in white weenie but he is pretty exceptionally there. He brings high power level as well as the much desired burst and reach.

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