Tuesday 15 September 2020
Zendikar Rising Preliminary Review Part X
Kazandu Mammoth / Valley 7.5
This seems very impressive. It is basically a Treetop Village that says right, I'm a land or a dork and not both but my dork mode is vastly better tempo. The main advantage is not having to pay mana to animate each turn. Being a 5/5 for 3 on average seems pretty tasty too! This does a lot for green consistency. It will help green to look like what we expect it to look like more often too with fat dorks kicking about. This is going to be a huge help to curving which is increasingly important in the battle to control walkers. I expect to see a speculative Mammoth on turn two a lot and have it doing a lot of work.
Skyclave Shade 6.5
A new take on Bloodghast and sadly a rather fairer one. Having to recast this limits synergies and abuses and means you are not able to milk a tempo advantage. What this does do is represent a lot of value as a persistent threat. It hits pretty hard for the mana and the recursive nature limits the downsides of low toughness. Your opponents will need to find a way to hold this off that isn't trading resources. Being a little bit more threatening than Bloodghast makes it less synergy dependant. This means it has a reasonable chance of being good enough for the limited cube even if it is not going to make all the cool constructed synergy decks Bloodghast enjoys. This is somewhat comparable to a Gutterbones or Bloodsoaked Champion early in the game but the kicker allows it to remain more relevant and threatening as the game draws on.
Grakmaw, Skyclave Ravager 2
Another one that is nice in the synergy decks but a bit too fair for a gold card outside of them. This is a 3/3 that dies into a 3/3 token which is decent but not exciting. Kitchen Finks is broadly better and it was sufficiently tame in cube these days to only really be a sideboard card against red aggro.
Oran-Rief Ooze 6
This seems nutty in a Hardened Scales deck. Basically some kind of extreme persistent Overrun on a Grey Ogre! It has some hope in cube as well. Worst case it is a three mana 3/3 that grows each attack. Not insane but certainly not irrelevant. Then it just has a pile of synergies with other cards that are just good already and make use of counters. My guess is this is a little too narrow and hard to get value from to last in cube but it will do some very cool things before it gets cut and not look out of place prior to then.
Shadow's Verdict 5
Consume the Meek and Ritual of Soot never got it done in cube. They were just too unreliable for the cost. While not bad they were just not quite there. This seems much the same. Had it cost four or been instant I would be more excited but being clunky as well as unreliable I am rather less sold. I will give it a test as it does hit most creatures, is exile quality, and three mana walkers are rather good too! Cards like Phoenix of Ash are getting to be a problem. Consume the Meek and Ritual of Soot always felt like they should be good in cube as they hit most of the dorks and the go wide strategies tend to have the lowest cost dorks too. They have been tested plenty and found wanting. I feel like this should be good enough too but I am marking it down based on the past experiences.
Felidar Retreat 6
Well this is quite the improvement to Retreat to Emeria! Tokens twice the size or persistent buff with lots of synergy potential, and vigilance because why not. In a landfall deck or counters deck this is looking like a solid top end card. Pretty much a planeswalker that is harder to answer. Is it good enough for limited cubes though? Aggro decks are not always making lands past the four mark and control decks have less use of buffing their team up. Even so, this seems very powerful and well worth a test. A free 2/2 every land is going to be a real help to any deck and worth 4 mana pretty fast.
Thundering Rebuke 6
Do I want to pay an extra mana on Flame Slash to have it hit planeswalkers? In most formats the answer is no but in cube it is probably yes. Cube tends to be one of the most planeswalker heavy environments and in a curated limited format having cards with the broadest application is optimal. This is quite and efficient and quite a punchy removal spell. Is it also better than Scorching Dragonfire? Some testing required. Red has had a lot of nice utility burn spells at two mana since Abrade that do not hit face and my cube can only really support about four or them.
Soaring Thought Thief 2
This does a lot and rather heavy handedly informs us of what the rogue tribal archetype is supposed to be doing. There is easily enough of these cards now to make a solid rogue mill deck in singleton. It will be quite cool and different but it will get old very quickly. Mill is a dull way to lose, it has some random pros and cons in a bunch of matchups too. Further to all of that the deck is likely still pretty terrible as you are milling by attacking. Why not just do the latter part of that better and with a greater pool of cards? Or just mill directly and save yourself some of these extra steps? Investing to win on two axis at once is wasted effort and resources. Still, when you do that deck this will be the best card in it. This is good enough that it might sneak into other synergy decks that have some overlap with this guy and what he does.
Scion of the Swarm 0
Oooh look. A big black flying Ajani Pridemate. If only it were small and black and didn't cost five mana. Then it might be at all useful. I guess this is budget filler for life matters decks in EDH and obviously a potential bomb in limited.
Fireblade Charger 7
A double improvement on Goblin Arsonist. When you take a one drop card that was fine already and you slap on a couple of upgrades you usually wind up with an impressive card. Both abilities are good too. The damage equal to power is easily scaled in cube and makes this awkward to remove or block and likely to get value. The haste is less good but it does add a load to this card in a specific but not all that uncommon setting. It is a big part of what makes Fervent Champion playable too. Basically cheap dorks with haste are the ideal follow up to having your creatures all answered when you have an equipment. This can be due to a Wrath effect or just some spot removal they have had to blow because they cannot endure a Sword trigger or Jitte charging comfortably. Having them make a play to stop that and have you do it anyway is brutal. A great cheap utility support card that has more late game relevance than a lot of one drops. Presently I run all fo Mogg Fanatic, Fanatical Firebrand, and Fervent Champion in my cube and I suspect this winds up replacing one of those rather than just joining the mix. Probably the Firebrand too as it is the most comparable to this and the most middle of the road for the synergies.
Master of Winds 7.5
The lovely point between a Cloudkin Seer and a Caller of Gales. A blue flyer that puts you up a card. This is good value, good support for graveyard based stuff, good card quality, good offence, and good defence. It is good on basically every axis beyond instant speed. It should get lots of play what with having very little downside. Control decks that are heavy on the counter plan might want to avoid four mana sorcery cards but otherwise it is hard to pass up on this rather delightful all rounder. It is even safe to ping effects when "flipping" if you have another way to trigger it unlike Wandering Fumarole which is dead to a ping once a flip trigger is on the stack. This is probably going to wind up comparable in power to Whirler Rogue which is a great place to be. Master leans on the value side while Whirler is about the best blue board control creature out there.
Glasspool Mimic / Shore 6
I have always hated Clone cards, especially ones that can only copy your own stuff. This is at least a land making being a Clone card less problematic! This is fairly late game as you really want to have stuck a four or five drop before Cloning it with this for value. Do that and this is going to be an impressive card. Otherwise it is probably going to be a land and that is fine. I really don't like it but I can't convince myself it is too bad for cube.
Agadeem's Awakening 8
Seems great. Low cost land or late game massive swing. This will do impressive things most of the time from five mana all the way to nine. As soon as you are getting two or more dorks back the card is pretty good. It is decent tempo at X=3 and improves from the point assuming some hits! The only thing really going against this card is that in a flood you might well not have much at all in the bin and so your spell land isn't great in either mode. Out of all of the top end spell lands on offer this seems the most likely to win the game. It is also one of the more versatile and so I am expecting good things from it. On raw power this would be an 8.5 but due to replacing a free card (Swamp) rather than a pick it does lose some bite.
Roost of Drakes 2
Here we have an actual reason to build a kicker deck. Play this on turn one, kick a few spells and be very ahead very easily. The issue this has is lack of cheap kicker spells you can follow this with in standard or simply difficulty in playing and finding this in singleton. The kicker in Dominaria might let this become a historic or pioneer thing but I doubt it. More support still needed in a couple of places for the various formats.
Base Camp 1.5
This is the Tournament Grounds, Cavern of Souls style card we needed for party decks to have enough fixing for all the stuff they will be trying to jam in. Entering tapped is a shame but for a land that fixes so well for that archetype you will still play all that you can. Little to no use outside of a party deck of course.
Ancient Greenwarden 2
Seems amazing for commander landfall decks and strong for any green landy deck there too. A bit big for a value or support card in heads up play. The body doesn't threaten enough, it is just quite big. You can likely do a bunch of cheeky things with this and Amulet of Vigor or Mystic Sanctuary or any number of abuses for the double trigger aspect.
Bayeen Veil / Coast 3
This is low value and low power. Likely the least useful or playable of all these flip lands for cube play. It is a bad Fog, while it does potentially act as a combat trick the kinds of deck that make use of combat tricks cannot afford this. Only decks with a lot of draw can afford to pack a card of this little value. A bad Fog that can be a land is still quite handy and so this will still see some play here and there, just not in cube limited.
Strength of Solidarity 1
Probably the most powerful of the payoff cards in green to party but at sorcery this is super unexciting. It doesn't feel like it has synergy with the game style of party decks. It is just a big pile of stats on the cheap in an aura like form. Not a pull to green, probably not even something you play in your party deck if you go green unless your party members are all Giest of St Traft, Invisible Stalker and Mother of Runes!
Nullpriest of Oblivion 4
Looks powerful and versatile but I fear the low end is just too undesirable for this to cut it in cube. One toughness is just asking for trouble and what is your payoff? A bit of lifegain? Perhaps a couple of damage to a walker or face, not worth a card and two mana more often than not. As a six drop this is conditional and not all that powerful compared to many alternatives. The value isn't all that as half your two for one is still a 2/1 dork. I see this as a tribal card helping you pad out the low curve with bodies or getting back key synergy cards later on.
Kargan Warleader 2
Solid warrior lord with nice clean and appropriate design. Will make most if not all tribal warrior decks and not be playable elsewhere. Likely too narrow for most party decks.
Tuktuk Rubblefort 0
I like this but I fail to see where I am playing it over Bloodlust Inciter or Crashing Drawbridge or Hammer of Purphorus or even just plain of Fervor and the mental Mass Hysteria! I guess it makes a red build of Assault Formation / Arcades decks but red really isn't a colour they are interesting in presently.