Tuesday 16 June 2020

Core 2021 Preliminary Reviews Part III

Havoc Jester 1

If you are really desperate for redundancy on your Mayhem Devil then I guess you can play this. I still wouldn't. Seems like a vastly over cost way of getting this effect, even if it is one you can scale. The 5/5 body is nice and meaty but it is kind of not all that relevant in cube. You are either playing this for the effect or not at all. Would much prefer a 3 mana 1/1 to this even if the power level is wildly reduced.

Pack Leader 2

Doglord! A very strong lord too. This will not need much support to be playable. Luckily there are not that many dogs or indeed hounds so they can get away with printing a lord of this power and efficiency. It doesn't feel like we are close to tribal dogs being viable in 40 card singleton decks but give it a few years and we will probably have the numbers.

Primal Might 5

The eternal power creep on fight cards continues and I continue to want them to be playable. Experience alone tells me this isn't playable! Now at instant it would be, very playable. Arguably even good! As it stands it is a somewhat risky, slightly conditional, but high value and scalable removal spell. I much prefer Voracious Hydra to this but I do appreciate this has it well beat in terms of ceiling potential. This is certainly strong enough looking to at least merit a little test.

Llanowar Visionary 8.5

Potentially the best card in the set, certainly a contender. And a refreshing common at that. This is pretty perfect for green and seems pretty comfortably the best 3 drop for the colour in my cube. It was probably Jadelight Ranger before. This could probably have held the title as best green 3 drop even if it was a 1/1, although it would certainly be closer. The strength of green is in ramp. It does it better than all the other colours but you do need to be careful about it. Ramp turn one and two into a couple of five drops before turn five is a great way to destroy opponents. There are some issues with that however. Make a pile of mana dorks and eat an Arc Trail and you are down so much that it is often unrecoverable. You can avoid this with land ramp but it is slower and far less useful once you have played out your stuff. Most things work with dorks from equipment to Recurring Nightmare to just chump blocking. A land sat there does not. Also, try and find me a ramp spell for a land that costs no cards. Cultivate and Kodoma's Reach come close but they lack the tempo and utility of having a dork in play and they also find you another land for your hand and cannot draw you into gas. Llanowar Visionary is a free play. It exposes you to minimal risk yet has massive upsides. I will play this in every cube green deck I make where it is an option. That level of auto include is not at all common in cube and means this should probably be a 9/10 rating which seems a bit like madness! It is still a support card after all. Yes, cards like Courser of Kruphix and Tireless Tracker are more powerful cards but they are more costly too. They take longer to gain advantage and can be dealt with more efficiently. Generally they are better late game, along with Eternal Witness however on turns two or three nothing is touching this monster of a common. It is going to feel so awful when you have to use spot removal on the Visionary so as to keep them off the walker or whatever top end fatty it is in their hand just for an short while. This is going to happen loads. Visionary is going to force uncomfortable two for ones or power out game winning lines. Do not under estimate this nutty support card. Phyrexian Rager was a staple in my cube for over a decade. It is still a pretty playable card! This is quite substantially better.

Shipwreck Dowser 2

The cost is high on this compared to Archeomancer, Snapcaster, Eternal Witness etc. The body however is worth rather more and so carries a lot of extra value. Sadly this is just a value card and despite being good value compared to cheaper ones it is not at the right CMC for what it is doing. Either you are going a little cheaper and playing alternatives like those named or you are going a bit bigger and getting some more serious power in the mix from something like a Gearhulk. Dowser is a good card that will find a bunch of uses, even a few niche ones in cube style events. It is probably excellent in peasant cubes too. As for more standard cube this is awkwardly placed to the point of not getting much of a look in.

Bad Deal 0

Great multiplayer card. Too slow for heads up play.

Malefic Scythe 0

Nice design and flavour but too fair and slow for most cubes.

Waker of Waves 6.5

Is Sleight of Hand good enough to get the Omen of the Sea treatment? An extra mana but made instant and given some fluff. I do certainly like this as I like any cheap card quality spell or any card with modes that include a cheap card draw. The Whale isn't even terrible. It does a good job of calming down go wide plans and is very big. Waker should stabilise a lot of scary looking boards. It won't do too much on closing a game unless that board, and probably hand as well, are pretty empty. Just stabilising as the blue player has a lot of merit and should allow for you to then win. The floor is decent, the ceiling is also reasonable. Combine that with low cost of inclusion and substantial range on the effects and we have a card with a good shot of being cube viable.

Mazemind Tome 7

This is very comparable to Treasure Map in both power and application. Map has had a good time in cube although it has been falling off more lately as it is such slow and low tempo card. It seems unlikely then that there is room for both Map and Tome in the cube. While Map is ultimately a little more flexibility and power it is heavily back loaded which greatly reduces the effective power of the card. Tome on the other hand is flexible from the outset which makes it seem like the better card. Ultimately Tome has five modes of use although if you account for sequencing it will have far more. The way this will actually pan out is actually almost identical to Witching Well. I think the most common mode will be scry 2 and draw 2, starting with the scry and ending with the draw. With that comparison in mind rather than with Map the Tome seems a lot better. It is playable in any colour, it gives you some nice free life, the card draw cost is far easier to stomach as it is in smaller chunks, and of course the card is so much more flexible. The only perks you can give the Well are the initial cost of one and the greater burst as it were on those first scys. So, is 2 mana for 4 scry and 4 life a good deal? Is 10 mana for 4 cards and 4 life a good deal? Broadly no on both accounts however there is a very big but here that changes that answer entirely from a negative one to a positive one. You get to pick and chose as you need. Under tempo pressure, race towards that life and scry for cost effective ways to stabilise. In an attrition war then slowly roll out those cards as it is efficient to do so. Basically there is never a situation where this is bad. It is a convenient support card giving you the desired blend of card quality or advantage. A bit of a shame that it exiles when the pages are used up so to speak but hardly the biggest issue.

Fungal Rebirth 6

This is pretty solid value. It compares fairly well to Eternal Witness on a lot of fronts. A pair of 1/1 tokens are far more potent than a 2/1. It is instant speed and it only costs a single green mana too. Downsides are that instants and sorceries are off the table and you need a morbid trigger if you want those tokens. I think this probably just doesn't make the cut although it is right on the line. It is just going to be a little inconsistent for the role you want it for. Either you wont have good things to get back or there wont be a morbid trigger. This will be fantastic in the right decks at least. Impressive power marred by unreliability.

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