Saturday 12 September 2020

Zendikar Rising Preliminary Review Part VII

Hagra Mauling / Broodpit 8/10

This is competitively cost and a broadly desirable effect. This will be Murder 20 to 30% of the time in my cube but that will be rather better odds early in the game when it matters most. While not an impressive rate it is still totally workable for when you simply need the answer, an event that is ever more frequently occurring in magic with the focus of power creep being on creatures. Hagra Mauling will let you hedge a bit on your removal which is a great place to be for creature kill where some decks have loads you need to answer quickly while others have relatively few important targets. Being instant makes this card good, it will save your skin against man lands or a crucial equipment turn. It might well still be playable as a sorcery but it would leave a bad taste and be rather sucky. You can basically play this as a land or a spell in your deck as you see fit in building and that is something very few of these split cards achieve. I suspect this will make 100% of black decks in cube able to support double black costs. 

Cragplate Baloth 1/10

This is just a bad Carnage Tyrant. It is smaller, costs more, and most ruinously has no trample. I do not see myself ever being so desperate to resolve a fatty that I play this.

Shatterskull Smashing / theHammer Pass 8.5/10

This is not very cost efficient prior to x = 6 but it is versatile, scaling and handles most of the threats you might face. It is also really easy to overlook the mana intensity of the spell what with this costing you basically nothing to run. Three life as a red player is generally irrelevant. This is the lowest cost land of all the flip lands in this set and it has a good spell half to boot. The ability to wipe out the two best things your opponent has late or do things like Arc Trail for a mere five mana are very happy upsides for a land! This should win most games when cast late game while being useful all the way to that point. This is removal and land which is good in the same way Hagra Mauling etc are good but it is also good in that it hurts less to run and most relevantly that it has game winning upside rather than just nice utility or skin saving capacity. I think I am going to find very very few red decks in cube where this isn't an auto include. The only reason I think I might not is if my mana base cannot support a red land that doesn't also tap for another colour. 

Inscription of Ruin 6.5

While not as needed nor as punchy as the green offering this is still a fine card. The Mind Rot is a decent rate and a decent disruptive two for one. Sorcery speed Smother at three mana is under par but still a useful thing to have on a modal card. It won't ever be value or tempo but it will stop you just rolling over and losing to a Rabblemaster and the like which is what you want from removal. The recursion mode also fails to be tempo or value by itself but gives you proactive ways to use this without the need of the opponent being in any specific state. The kicker is pricey and fairly unlikely to get used all that often. It could well be a four for one but it still not going be all that for tempo. At the seven mana mark smother and unearth also have fairly low impact. Even without the kicker I think the range and usefulness of the modes should make this playable. It feels somewhat in the Elspeth's Nightmare category of card both in power level and feel. This is a bit more reliable but offers less value most of the time.

Roil Eruption 7.5

Wow, this has been a long time coming. Eldrich Moon was the last time we got a burn spell that was a good rate and would go to any target and Incendiary Flow is hardly the most crucial or powerful of burn options. Mostly this is Volcanic Hammer which would place it as the weakest of the still playable burn options in cube. The Rampant Growth of burn if you will! The kicker does a good job of pushing this from a mediocre burn spell to a decent one. Five is a lot of damage from one card and affords a lot of reach and killing power. Games are going longer and longer at present and having seven mana is not unseen as it once was, even for the aggro decks. 

Thieving Skydiver 5

This is impressive in powered cubes and multiplayer. In my cube artifacts are common but not assured and not always that relevant. Paying 4 mana for a 2/1 flyer to steal a Talisman or Signet is going to be pretty low value unless on or close to curve. Stealing equipment, vehicles, and Retrofitter Foundry will be outstanding but otherwise you basically just have a poor little flyer. It doesn't feel like that will happen nearly often enough to justify running this given the floor and low power level. At least Dack loots when he isn't on the pinch. This is an amazing sideboard card in most formats but you shouldn't be running those in limited cubes. 

Spare Supplies 5.5

Lovely little filler card that is rather akin to a concise Mazemind Tome. I am happy playing this most places I would play an Ichor Wellspring and most places I would play the Tome. The former is really only combo decks but the latter is a number of slower cube draft decks. Sadly I think this is just a bit too fair and capped in power to really stand out and last but it is none the less a fine card. 

Iridescent Hornbeetle 1

Much as this is really clunky, narrow, slow, and low powered it can be abused hard and easily and make a world of 1/1 dudes if that is your thing.

Kargan Intimidator 4

This looks good but compare it to something like Kari Zev and it seems pretty garbage. This is a 3/1 without spending mana on it. That makes it very easy to kill and quite easy to ignore. A 2/1 trades with this... I don't want my two drops to need more mana investments and I certainly don't want them vulnerable, poor at applying pressure, and weak at gaining value. All told this is still a high powered card with a lot of options meaning it will likely get a bunch of play in a bunch of places. The bar for the drafting cube is just too high now for fancy cards like this. Stuff needs to just be good, it can't need supporting or mana or time to get good. It can't have ways in which they are bad or risky and so Intimidator fails. 

Sea Gate Restoration / Reborn 5

While this is low cost to run the spell mode is pretty mental. By the time you can fire this off it is probably only getting you like 3 or so cards at best. It might just mill you to death at worst. Not to mention tapping you all the way down for an effect that does nothing to affect the tempo. I can't see me wanting to cast this very often and I can't see it having a massive impact even when it is cast. Give me Castle Vantress over this every day. I feel like this is a card I will only really run in extreme combo decks with things like Omniscience or in commander! Too marginal for cube. 

Moraug, Fury of the Akoum 4

Feels easily abused in a build around. Haste it up, flop it out with a sac land to play and that is pretty much all she wrote. In a limited cube setting this is slow and vulnerable and probably wants some degree of support in both landfall enablers and other dorks to do much of much at all. Just make this on turn six and see how that goes. You will probably be dead already. If not Moraug probably will be before you untap and even if neither of those things occur you are unlikely to be able to attack with your 6/6 that much if at all because of some deathtouch dork or enough power on the other side to take him down. Too polar for a six drop - a slot that should be reserved for cards that reliably win or swing a game and not potential ceiling.

Lithoform Blight 6.5

The black Spreading Seas. This does four things. Either it turns off a utility land, it is a cheap cantrip permanent you can build up devotion and the like with, it can be a means to aid your own fixing, or it can be a means to force a bit of damage onto the opponent else they have their fixing disrupted. Highly versatile card with low cost to play. Probably not enough synergies in cube to push it and baseline it is a little too low impact. Great little card though that I expect to see all over the place.