Monday 14 September 2020

Zendikar Rising Preliminary Review Part IX

Malakir Rebirth / Mire 6

This is one of the narrowest effects of these two sided spell lands. It is also one of the cheapest. I don't love this because of how this kind of narrow reactive spell complements a CipT land. You want to be able to just hold the card so that if the situation arises where it is powerful you can use it. A CipT land you want to lay at the first opportunity in which is doesn't cost you tempo. You want to be able to look at a situation and determine of you need to be making land drops now or if you need action later. Cards that do things that are always action are far easier to make that call with. Holding this is a tempo cost and an opportunity cost. It is nice when you can attack in with something like Gonti, they offer a trading block and you get another go on your EtB effect at a bargain rate. The proactive side of this is great but it is even narrower again. I guess you can also abuse this with self sacrifice cards like Priest of Forgotten Gods as well as combat but this is just more more situational uses. All told, the low mana cost of the spell and high potential swings it offers feel like they mitigate the inconveniences. Mostly include this as a land in your deck and occasionally have it be game winningly brutal.

Silundi Vision / Isle 7

This has to be pretty great. While I don't normally like card quality effects as limited to type as this it is hard to call that a problem when you have a land on the other side of your card. Commune with Nature could look just 3 or 4 deep and be great if there was a land on the other side of the card! Six is pretty deep and really helps find dig into crucial answers. Instant means you can safely cast it without dropping counterspell protection. Supreme Will is a good card for control decks and this is a similar sort of affair. Both just do two things you generally want to have access too without straining your list. They are not all that powerful but they are just so good for consistency.

Scourge of the Skyclaves 6

This is a Death's Shadow that checks everyone's life and has a higher cap. It seems excellent in modern where sac and shock lands dictate most mana bases. With little effort this is going to outclass Tarmogoyf. The kicker is cute and powerful. Assuming nothing else at all happens you can play this, kick it, attack and win. Halving life however on a seven drop isn't ideal. Nor is a seven drop that has no evasion or ongoing value. Mostly you want this as a two drop and mostly it is good at that. It is easy to get everyone a bit below 20 in cube and that is all this needs to get going. Then you have a quickly scaling serious and dynamic threat. It is pretty easy to do yourself damage if you want in cube. I think this will be fairly comparable to Tarmogoyf rather than outclassing it as I predict for modern. It will be played in more aggressive shells more often than Goyf and will pair wonderfully with the likes of Dark Confidant, Gitaxian Probe and many more. This will be a lot of fun to play with too so I hope I am right about it. There are certainly times it will just be unplayable garbage as someone is at 20 or more and you can't change that. Most cards with that sort of floor are no good for cube but this costs little and does a lot so has a good chance of getting past that hurdle.

Stonework Packbeast 0

If you need this to make your party deck work your party deck is terrible. This should help loads in set limited party but outside of that it shouldn't be getting a look in.

Skyclave Shadowcat 0

Just too pricey for what is essentially just a utility card. Midnight Reaper will serve you better for draw. Carrion Feeder for sacrifice and so on for a long long way before you get to the Shadowcat. It is all about cost for these kinds of thing and the cat does badly there despite seemingly quite powerful and handy.

Moss-Pit Skeleton 0

This is garbage. The power is low, the tempo is low and there is no value to be had. I guess technically you can combo with cards like Vivien, Monster's Advocate but the rest of the card is so meh that it still isn't worth it.

Journey to Oblivion 1.5

Reasonably versatile white removal for party themed decks. Probably still not as good as the black Hero's Downfall version for singleton but white does seem like the lead colour for party decks so this has that as well as wider range going for it.

Wayward Guide-Beast 2

Awkwardly bad. Goblin Guide this is not. You can only really play this in a few places. 1. Decks that have the ability to consistently make multiple land drops. Fine, but when do those decks want an aggro one drop? 2. Decks that are mind-blowingly low CMC. If you are all one and two drops then this is probably OK. It works well with things like Teetering Peeks for extra value. It works with Land Tax to some degree.. It helps a one land hand get a bit more done. It is best at planeswalker control but then a one drop that isn't useful on turn one is a bit awkward. Interesting card but very hard to play effectively. Mostly just Cursed Centaur levels of weak.

Nahiri's Lithoforming 2

I am not entirely sure what this is for?! Turn lands into cards with the capacity to replenish those lands with said extra cards if that is how they come. This is a bit of a Reprocess and a nice way to fill up the bin with lands, dig into a deck, or make a load of landfall triggers. It is however very late, low tempo, and really in need of a lot of synergy to be of interest. This is very expensive card quality, it costs a card and a lot of mana. In cube I fear it would mostly be a nut low Faithless Looting.

Canyon Jerboa 4

This can be brutal or it can be a 3 mana 1/2 which is no good at all. I think you need things to ensure the triggers on this as it is already pretty conditional. When good this laughs at Benalish Marshal but when bad Squire laughs at it. The later cards are the less you can rely on landfall triggers. The cube decks than most want this also don't have many if any sac lands in them. All told I don't think this gets there in cube despite sickening upside potential. Bring me a weenie landfall deck and this is the best card in it though.

Molten Blast 0

Ouch, Abrade got nerfed.

Forsaken Monument 2

This will be a big help to aggressive decks in more vintage formats that have access to large quantities of fast colourless mana. You can burst this out with Grim Monolith and Mana Vault and then lean on the personal Mana Flare to carry on bursting out. The life gain is a mild perk and a potential combo with Bolas' Citadel. The anthem is also very potent but colourless creatures tend to be big to start with and don't do all that much token generation. You could certainly tweak a build to be more token and go wide based but then you are probably just building affinity and cutting this five drop. A powerful card that has few viable or sensible homes.

Akiri, Fearless Voyager 2

Narrow as all hell but potent when you do happen to be on the Boros equipment themed deck. It was well supported already and getting some juice from this set so it is probably looking at least decent as far as singleton goes. Not worthy discussing for limited cubes.

Reclaim the Wastes 1

Lovely perk to slap onto Lay of the Land. While there is room in the cube for Lay of the Land cards that have significant upside Reclaim is not that. Three extra mana is a lot and the payoff is a land you clearly don't need all that much. This will be kicked infrequently and help little when it is. Shame it is so unlikely to see play as it is a well designed card that does all the good consistency style things I am such a fan of.

Lithoform Engine 1

A commander players wet dream I assume. This is far too slow and setup intense to get anything done in cube.

Skyclave Relic 6

This is a highly versatile ramp spell with some nice upsides. Darksteel Ingot floor isn't exciting but it does a job. Kicked however you are getting quite the upgrade. Basically an indestructible Gilded Lotus that provides metalcraft by itself. Possibly a bit big for my current cube but absolutely something my combo cube will love. Slower rampy cubes will be all over this, as will the EDH community. I imagine most powered cubes will also fancy a bit of Relic action. It is flexible and powerful on an axis (mana production) that is good for most decks.

Inscription of Insight 6

Nice to finally see blue not getting a bomb in this kind of card. Great that it is a sorcery for once too, it is normally other coloured getting done on that front. Poor white Confluence.  Scry 2 draw 2 is likely the best mode on this and you can do better than that fairly significantly with like any 4 mana instant draw spell, not least Glimmer of Genius... Making a token for four mana is pretty laughable. Bouncing two dorks is pretty sad but likely the mode you will be forced into using most often. When you can kick this it comes together to be a nice swingy, rounded stabilizing package but 8 mana is really rather steep. Not something you should expect too often. The token will be like a 3/3 by then as well which is hardly ideal. Much as it is clearly weaker than black and green Inscriptions it might still sneak into the cube being so flexible.

Maddening Cacophony 3

Great in mill decks being both efficient and versatile. Rather useless elsewhere. Seemingly multiplayer mill is getting serviced.

Nahiri's Binding 1

Pacifism for dorks and walkers. While this gets around the issue of retriggering EtB effects that make Oblivion Ring style removal risky it has a whole bunch of flaws that ultimately make it worse. This is double white to cast, it can't be a Disenchant, it can't stop passive effects, and it still allows other interactions with the target like flickering it to get it back or sacrificing it for some value. All told this is a very long way worse than Council's Judgement and still too far behind Oblivion Ring to get a look in. The best thing it does is having an aura tag and hence not being a 0/10 card.

Ondu Inversion / Skyruins 7.5

This seems amazing to me but it is not without issue. Land or 8 drop is the main one. How are we casting many 8 drops when we are not making all of our lands? That sounds like so much of a flood that we are unlikely to get there. On the other hand, this is a total recovery tool. It is one of very few cards able to recover a board full of walkers and other diverse threats. Ugin and Cyclonic Rift being the current top cards in that camp. There are lots of quite good destroy/remove everything cards however most are symmetrical or totally miss walkers. The latter is a big issue as they are the main antidote to conventional wraths and them most important aspect of a full recovery card to have. The symmetrical cards are an issue because they have bad synergy with any way of winning you might have. They are basically awful when you are even or ahead and don't even do too much of a good job when you are behind. Sure, clear the board and put things back to even but have already taken loads of damage and tap out late in the game just to be even on board. That only wins if they have over extended or had very little going on. So, back to this card. It is great because it does do something when you are not behind. Sure, the 8 mana mode is really a 6 mana spell and it still taps you down and lets your opponent abuse you for a turn but it is still a big out. It can bail you in ways few other cards can. Having it in your deck lets you have more and better game plans and is just the ticket thank you very much.

Squad Commander 2

Another great reason to be white when making a party deck. Little use elsewhere but a solid card for that archetype.

Scute Swarm 4

This is quite cute, a token generator early and a beast of a Pack Rat later down the line. It is pretty hard to beat this and lands late game without mass removal. Early it is sadly a bit slow and vulnerable to be all that exciting. Green is not really a go wide colour in my cube. In a cube with go wide theme in green this seems like a huge gift and great addition.

Vastwood Fortification / Thicket 5

Seems a lot like the graft land but half! To be better than graft land (Llanowar Reborn) this really needs to get value as a combat trick in which case it is great but narrow. It is good in a Hardened Scales deck for consistency reasons that are doubly important in synergy lists. For cube this seems like it is probably too minor to keep a slot. It is one of those low power cards you have to put in the land slot in your list and as such feel the hit of the entering tapped and not being basic that much more keenly. For how infrequently this will trump a combat I suspect it is too costly.

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