Saturday 4 July 2020

Jump Start Preliminary Reviews Part I

Thriving Grove (JMP)Thriving Land Cycle 6

These are essentially Vivid lands. Vivids give you better fixing for multiple colours early while Thriving lands don't run out of steam and will help you until the game is over. It is rare that you run out of counters on a Vivid land and so I think I still prefer them in three or more coloured decks in cube. Thriving lands are still great though, they are better in two colour decks and can still outclass the Vivids in decks with more colours from time to time as well. These will be the best fixes in many budget formats are are sufficiently space efficient that I can see them breaking into more powerful cubes too. A great cycle to have added to the game.

Lightning-Core Excavator (JMP)

Lightning Core Excavator 1

This is very low powered but it isn't unplayable as it has so much crossover. If the initial 0/3 artifact body does much for you and a wildly overcost Lightning Bolt is something you can use then perhaps this fits into your build.

Towering Titan (JMP)

Towering Titan 0

Expensive and needy. I want a more reliable threat for six mana, not one that needs things in play to be big and requires sacrifices to get damage through. Ghalta seems rather superior if you expect to have things in play and Ghalta isn't a very good cube card. Certainly this works well will walls but if you are wall heavy then you can play better synergy cards like Assault Formation to empower those walls and bypass this kind of silliness all together.

Neyith of the Dire Hunt (JMP)Neyith of the Dire Hunt 3

A Hill Giant with bells and whistles. You can buff things, you can draw cards, and you can force bad options on your opponent. All well and good but all a bit slow and conditional. I want my four drops to have more board presence or reliably do more right away than this. Perfectly powerful card, potentially game winning, just a bit vulnerable and hopeful when you can just pack cards like Questing Beast instead.

Branching Evolution (JMP)

Branching Evolution 2

Hardened Scales but three times the price! You might still play this in the singleton iterations of +1/+1 counters themed decks but it certainly isn't providing those busted openers you get with Scales. A very fair piece of redundancy for one kind of deck. Playable but a source of consistency rather than power.

Allosaurus Shepherd (JMP)
Allosaurus Shepherd 4

Somewhere between an Ezuri and a Creeperhulk. You only play this in elf decks and really only as a finisher. I guess you might play this as a sideboard card to handle blue permission decks but that isn't very exciting. Other cards do that sort of thing too, you really want to be able to use the 4GG ability to threaten a win with your elvish team for this to excite. Being a one drop is nice, it does make it better for comboing off with Glimpse and the like but still, Ezuri seems a safer and more powerful option. This is more likely to replace Craterhoof than Ezuri. A strong tribal option for a strong tribe but not really a new tool. I guess this is just a compact and contained version of City of Solitude and Overrun.

Zurzoth, Chaos Rider (JMP)Zurzoth, Chaos Rider 6.5

Fascinating card that is very close to the mark and likely only misses out due to low cheap devil count and extreme power level in the red 3 drop alternative options. In practice Zurzoth compares to Hanwier Garrison most. Both are three mana 2/3 bodies that attack and create more bodies. A pair of humans is better than an on death pining devil but it is close. A random loot for both players is going to be net positive for you and likely empower some synergies too. It will have some positive effects for your opponent as well. It will however be far harder for them to play around and they will be less likely to gain advantage from the synergies as well on average due to information and plan in the building of the decks. Where Zurzoth can jump from Garrison levels of power to the top tier level of the Rabblemaster is when you already have a devil in play and ready to attack when you lay Zurzoth. An immediate devil token for extra tempo, assured value, and the ability to get another trigger next turn without having to risk Zurzoth. It would be easy enough to support Zurzoth to some extent as there are a couple of other decent cube worthy devils out there. Rakdos Cackler and Footlight Fiend through to Hellrider. The cheaper options particularly welcome for maximizing Zurzoth's potential. The only things I can trigger him with presently in cube are tokens from Tibalt and Mutavault, neither of which really curve ideally with Zurzoth. I will likely try and support Zurzoth just for a test as he is a more interesting card than the various other red token producing 3 drops. On balance however he probably isn't going to be a feature in many cubes. Supported Zurzoth reaches and possibly exceeds the potency of Rabblemaster. Unsupported you probably fail to surpass the Garrison.

Spiteful Prankster (JMP)Spiteful Prankster 6.5

A strictly better Hissing Iguana. The body on Prankster is acceptable and will allow it to be useful in combat and not just a vulnerable enchantment like effect. The effect is certainly a nice one akin to the Blood Artist drain. This has no life gain but it can hit walkers and will scale with things like Torbran. Red doesn't really care for lifegain either so I can actually see this doing well in cube. Probably around the power level of Rampaging Ferocidon. First strike, as with menace on Ferocidon, allows you to put the body of Prankster to effective use unlike Hissing Iguana. Very strong but let down by being a three drop that will trade one for one with most removal.

Sethron, Hurloon General (JMP)Sethron, Hurloon General 6.5

This guy is a total beating. You get 6/7 of stats over two bodies for your five mana as well as the ability to pump them and gain menace. You even have a tiny chance of getting more 2/3 dorks should you somehow have further minotaurs to play. There are not all that many cards of the type, most are pricey and most are also bad. There are just a handful across the spectrum I would consider for cube so even if I did try and support this guy you are getting that second token a tiny fraction of the time. In a tribal deck Sethron is about as good as it gets, value, power and reach. The perfect top end lord like synergy dude. In a deck with no tribal support he is still a high tier card, perhaps just a little dull and inflexible to beat out the various hasting dragons and planeswalkers. Worth a test for sure. A very midrange card but then red is getting a lot of that these days and becoming very good at it.

Muxus, Goblin Grandee (JMP)Muxus, Goblin Grandee 4

This does it all. A massive source of value with the cards drawn like Ringleader. A massive tempo swing putting them all into play and if you still need it at that point, a huge dork to swing with. Generally this will be too good not to play in a tribal goblin deck. You can set this up with Recruiter for an almost assured on the spot win. Even without Recruiter you are averaging a good 3 gobbos in most tribal builds when you play this. You can speed it out with Warcheif style cost reductions, saccing a bunch of stuff for mana with Prospector or just cheat it out with Lackey effects. All very scary. This card is basically everything you want from a top end goblin card in much the same way a Dream Trawler is a custom made control threat. It will be hard to top Muxus for suitability!

Living Lightning (JMP)Living Lightning 1

A bit slow and expensive to do what you want. At three mana this would appeal. At four I want haste and and EtB trigger rather than an on death one.

Lightning Visionary (JMP)

Lightning Visionary 1

Enough good cheap prowess cards now that this is only getting action in a tribal deck, and even then it isn't looking good. Tribal decks are dork heavy mostly and so prowess looks poor. The cowmen hardly count as a good tribe either.

Lightning Phoenix (JMP)
Lightning Phoenix 6.5

This is a bit of a blend between Flamewing and Chandra's Phoenix. Lightning is the easiest to cast and the easiest to recur. It has the tempo leanings of Flamewake in that it is poor defensively but it recurs at reduced cost. It is however generally slower when recurred as it will usually be missing an attack. Ease of recurring is a big plus for this. Sadly I think this card is a little linear and a little fair. If I had a heavy looting theme in red then this would do well enough but with my current cube build you are mostly casting this before you get to cheat it out and that is not exciting. Powerful enough to test for sure but not a card I would bet on lasting. Phoenix of Ash is just more reliable and packs that more punch to make it scary and dangerous. It is a threat and value while this isn't quite so dangerous on the threat side of things making it ultimately less value as well.

Immolating Gyre (JMP)
Immolating Gyre 1

Very strong EDH card although narrow even there. In cube this is too pricey and unreliaible for the kinds of decks that will fill up a bin.

Chained Brute (JMP)

Chained Brute 3

At face value this is low powered but it is a card you can either abuse or mitigate the downsides and have something you might play. I might even look at this for tribal builds as saccing devils often comes with upside! This is deceptively playable.

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