Sunday, 5 July 2020
Jump Start Preliminary Reviews Part II
Witch of the Moors 6.5
This is absolutely filthy if you can trigger it and terrible if you can't. I don't have sufficient ways to gain life for this to do enough in cube draft but I suspect it would not be too hard to support this. Life gain cards are abundant enough and this card has a nutty enough ceiling to make it worthwhile. Even if they untap and kill this right away you have got a 3 for 1, probably some tempo too. There seems to be a big pool of cards from this set and Core 2021 that I want to test but need to also add in a collection of supporting tools to do so properly. This will greatly increase the time taken to test. A process that is already slow! At least you can likely rule this out if you are not the kind of person who likes to bother with considering support.
Tinybones, Trinket Thief 6.5
This is an elegant little card. It is narrow in that it does nothing without discard support. The difference between this and Witch of the Moors which makes this more playable is that this costs so much less rather than discard having more support than lifegain. This penalises opponents looting or cycling as well as buffing your own discard effects. This doubles the potential support Tinybones gets in game. This also buffs discard effects in that once you are at six mana opponents are going to try and keep cards in hand to avoid taking 10, which in turn will allow your discard effects to continue to land. This may still be too narrow, or might need some extra support love to get there but I give it a better chance than Witch of the Moors despite being the less powerful of the two cards. At least Witch is a relevant 4/4, this is just a do nothing 1/2 when not triggering.
Kels, Fight Fixer 5
There is quite a lot going on here but it all feels a bit slow and fiddly. The baseline 4/3 menace is weak at four mana. Being able to make it indestructible is nice but at a mana to use it is not something you can curve out and makes Kels feel more like a five drop. A bit like Glen Elandra is also ideally a five mana card. You also need other dorks for Kels to be good either for card draw or indestructible activations. The card draw element is nice but it is weak to pair with the indestructible mode only. You want protection cheap, alternatively, you want to also put the indestructible to use when you sac off dorks for just a card a pop so as to get more value. I could see playing a Kels in a midrange aristocrats style deck where I am sacrificing dorks to other effects and can just use Kels as a source of value on an otherwise useful and meaty body. A sort of terrible Falkenrath Aristocrat that comes with half a Skullclamp! Kels has places to be useful and things to offer but it is not a card I see cutting in it in drafting cubes.
Scholar of the Lost Trove 4
This seems to have a lot of potential. It is likely rather too much setup to replace the likes of Griselbrand or Emrakul in a cheat it out combo but it does allow you to do things other cards cannot. Time Stretch is a card for example. That is a rather impressive thing to cheat out or just cast for seven mana! I feel like I am winning most games where I get a 5/5 flyer and two more turns! Other potent options also available such as Aminatou's Augury or just some fatty artifact dork. It is an EtB trigger too and not a cast one so you can just Flash this into play and go wild on your big card. I wish to turn one Flash in this off the back of a cheap looting spell pitching the Augury only to hit Omniscience, Echo of Eons, Nexus of Fate, some big Eldrazi legend, Narset Parter of the Veils and I guess just a humble Island. That is a new life goal. That would make multiplayer worth playing! Good job they banned Flash in commander frankly!
Ormoss, Archive Keeper 1
Interesting and powerful card. Sadly this is not a good step in for Thassa's Oracle or the Mystery Jace as it is a lot more mana and because it doesn't directly win slowing it down further while also reducing the chance it actually converts the win once that library is gone. On the plus side this is a big flyer with a very powerful draw mechanism. Sadly for Ormos it isn't close to Consecrated Sphnix or Dream Trawler as far as big six drop card drawing flyers go. I'm not sure you want a halfway house version of a big card drawing flyer and an anti self mill tool but if you did, Ormoss is your guy.
Inniaz, the Gale Force 3
Well this is a big pile of silly. Not close to good enough for a cube draft often just being Air Elemental. In a flying themed deck Inniaz has more hope. Being a flying dork is a plus in a decks built around that synergy, as is offering perks for having flyers! There are some reasonable cost reduction effects for flyers further increasing the playability of this pseudo lord. Having a pump effect like this is nice for sure. While it is expensive it is on a top end card so it should be useful due to mana levels at that stage in the game. It also has the chance of powerful effects immediately. Imagine the horror of flopping this, swinging with a triad of 1/1 token flyers and stealing a high loyalty walker. Fairly win more but still a buff to a deep card that has a passable floor.
Corsair Captain 3
What a lovely lord. Clean and yet full of flavour and theme. Interesting and different too which is so hard on the simple cards. Obviously only playing this in pirate heavy decks but looking to play this whenever I am in that situation so a win as far as a tribal card goes. Pirates suddenly went from a novelty tribe to a viable option.
Bruvac the Grandiloquent 3
While this is only a card you would run in a mill deck it is pretty obnoxious there. Torbran for mill! Mill is a bit of a problem in 40 card decks as it is already twice as good as it should be. Doubling the power of a problematic thing is a real problem. Like, imagine how good a burn deck is when your opponents all start on 10 life. Then imagine how good that is for the burn player when there is also a Furnace of Rath in play. Bruvac into Archive Trap is basically game against all but the quickest 40 card decks. A single extra mill effect is all you need to beat the quick decks, a 1/4 blocker rather helps against the aggro ones too. Lucky there are good anti mill tools out there for the open formats and no need to support it elsewhere. Bruvac is powerful but not likely to be any sort of fun.
Solid little value or recursion tool. Only playable in decks that need specific artifacts or have a really high artifact count. All such things are combo decks, synergy decks, or otherwise constructed lists and so this doesn't have a place in most conventional cubes. Nice tool to have in this form though. Power level is pretty low but it is still a handy card
Stonehaven Pilgrim 0
A 3/3 lifelink attacker for 1W sounds great, even if it is a 2/2 the rest of the time. The condition is also easily met. The thing is this is still just a dork. It isn't a persistent threat or one with great reach. It offers no real value either. The lifelink isn't all that relevant as a race tool as this is just an aggressive beater. This does tempo quite well but other cards do it better and bring more to the table. Reach, value, utility, scalability, persistence, or Tarmogoyf levels of stats are what is needed to make the bar in cube these days. This very high power level card misses all those things and as a result seems unplayable in a cube setting. Perhaps it makes it in a 100 card lifegain deck but even there it seems very underwhelming.
Steel-Plume Marshall 0
A hard hitting sky lord dork. Sadly the cost is very high and you need the Marshall to attack to gain the perks making it too slow and unreliable as a synergy card. I would play this in EDH flyer builds but 40 card lists have too many stronger options for this to get a look in. Perhaps worth revisiting if a suitable tool arrives to somewhat consistently afford this haste!
Release the Dogs 4
Certainly a card you will play in doggo tribal decks but also one with enough punch to make it elsewhere too. This has a whole lot of scaling going on with Anthem effects. Four mana for 8/8 in stats over four bodies will almost be the norm for this if played in cube and that will make it pretty impressive. It probably lacks the value, utility and reach you want in a four drop but the power and scaling potential is there for sure. I card I will happily play in token themed decks although it is
Emiel, the Blessed 2
Powerful utility and combo potential but rather too much of a four mana 4/4 with a 3 mana activated ability. This needs support in other cards and lots of mana to do much of much. As such beyond combo applications, likely as a backup too for cards like Eldrazi Displacer, this has little in the way of uses or desirability for cube. One day it will have a home in a tribal setting but we are a long way off that now.
A one-off tapper with lifegain upside. Sadly the body is a bit poor to be exciting. Life isn't aggro either while this tap effect is, resulting in a cross purpose card I can't see myself using until that fabled unicorn unicorn tribal deck arrives!
Blessed Sanctuary 4
Very powerful effects indeed. Churning out free 2/2 unicorn tokens as you go is nice. Being immune to non-combat damage personally and for your dorks is also pretty strong if a little bit hating on red. Too narrow for the drafting cube although not by very much. Lots of potential for sideboards or use in decks with good supporting synergy.