Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Kaldheim Preliminary Review Part III

Finally the missing and now heavily out of sequence part three;

Arni Brokenbrow 2

Nice little beater but far too fair for cube. Just a couple of years too late to the party for this one. Berserker tribal is the only hope for Arni now. 

Battle for Bretagard 2

OK on its own giving four 1/1 tokens eventually. Sadly it is pretty slow and easily disrupted such that the return is rather less. On the flip side you can high roll this and create some pretty serious token advantage. Another Angel of Sanctions sounds nice, perhaps a wolf token and beast token and lets throw in a wurm token for good measure! Selesnya certainly has a lot of token production and does have a mix of some of the best ones out there. I would play this in decks with the right synergies but I am not into it for cube play. It is just too slow, gold, and narrow, with far too low of a floor. 

Blessing of Frost  0

Just too many things needing to be going on here for it to be exciting. Sure, if you can get four +1/+1 counters and draw three or so  cards with it then great. You need dorks and snow lands and things to line up nicely. Just play a proper pump spell or a more reliable or suitable card draw tool. 

Vorinclex, Monstrous Raider 7

This dude is a bit of a beast. Trample and haste on a 6/6 for six gets some work done. That applies pressure of batters planeswalkers right through a lot of defence. That alone puts him in sights of Thundermaw Hellkite levels of card, which these days is the low end of stuff in most cubes. As such does all that counter doubling and halving push it up to and past the Hellkite bar? It could give your opponent an infinite combo with a random persist or undying creature! It is tricky to say as it very much depends on what else is going on in both decks. If you have a lot of counter synergy then it is a bit better and the same goes for your opponent. A lot of cards use counters. The big one of course is planeswalkers and for cube I suspect that is enough to push Vorinclex into the realms of pretty good. It hits walkers both as they enter play and when they use abilities making all your walkers loyalty beasts and rapid threats with ultimates while the opponents are all tiny and struggling to grow or do much. Their +1 becom +0 and their 5 loyalty walker came down with 2 rendering the -3 ability unusable etc. Vorinclex can close a game out with beats fairly fast or he can sit back and let counter synergy cards win instead. He is vulnerable to removal but with haste and potentially even a small amount with the counter synergies he can get a lot done in one turns worth of action. I expect to like this less than Primeval Titan but more than Carnage Tyrant which should well result in a permanent, if loosely held, cube slot.

Toski, Bearer of Secrets 6.5

Very cute. The cynical view is that wizards is doing their level best to milk all they can from EDH players. I suspect this because I also want to build around this! Damn them. Power wise this card is reasonable to the point I could see it being run in cubes. You can get some immediate return with other attackers and it applies some pressure itself. Generally a pretty resilient card advantage tool as well in the same sort of camp as Guardian Project. The added perks of Toski is with any sort of buffs like good old equipment. This means that Toski is a bit of a threat regardless as it attacks with impunity and rarely suffers ill from doing so. I think this should out perform Guardian Project and earn a cube slot as a slow green value tool. It doesn't need much support to be decent and does a reasonable job of scaling up with plenty of things quite nicely. The combination of it being a value card that poses some threat beyond that and a value card that can have immediate returns and an effect on the board entice me. It is fairly convenient as to when you can play it unlike Guardian Project which really wants you to drop it down as soon as you can and in doing so hurt your tempo. Bounce and exile effects are the real issue for Toski but if you know that you can try and get one good turn of value rather than trying to keep him around. 

The Bloodsky Massacre 1

I really like this card but I can't justify putting it in the cube even to test. The ceiling is decent, you get a 2/3 menace and at least a card for no more than two mana. Toss in another berserker or two and you are looking at no mana for massive return. The issue is that, while not bad, the average performance of the card will not be enough to overcome this being gold. When this card is bad it is shocking so the average will be made up of times it is decent and times it is a total blowout. Just getting the token randomly bounced or otherwise easily removed and you got nothing much at all. Tribal card only and as yet we have precious little else promoting this tribe. 

Righteous Valkyrie 3

Not quite reliable enough yet to just run cards in cube that need high life. In decks built to gain life however this is a massive card. It offers quite decent lifegain itself triggering with most of the types found in life gain decks. It then becomes a super Anthem on a  3 mana flying 4/6 body as soon as you get a fairly easily met high life total. 

Battle Mammoth 6.5

This also looks like it is just good enough to edge out the weakest card from a slot. In this case I think this is going to practically be a touch better than Elder Gargaroth. While it lacks the same top end range as Gargaroth the Mammoth is much safer as a play what with being that much harder to trade evenly with it. The passive is not just protection for the Mammoth in cube, especially being on a 5 toughness body. There are loads of little effects found on utility creatures and planeswalkers that have narrow ranges or small effects all of which wouldn't kill Mammoth but do trigger the draw. Walking Balista is a poor thing to have against this, as is a Rishadan Port, Gideon's Lawkeeper isn't ideal, even just getting it killed by two burn spells is a juicy four for one and that is one of the less good outcomes possible. 

Mammoth also has a nice alternate casting mode with the foretell which can be used to break up a cost to deploy a turn sooner than normal curving at an extra mana cost overall, or perhaps just lets you actually get it out if you are somehow capped at four mana or don't want to risk being in that situation with nothing to do. Being easier to deploy  (than Gargaroth) thanks to foretell, and safer thanks to the passive the Mammoth does a reasonable job of being a proactive green fatty. You might well win the game with it but you don't need to. It is just good clean muscle to be getting on with. I feel it is like a green iteration of Cavalier of Gales. A kind of top end filler role, the kind of thing Thragtusk used to be. Just a big thing you are happy to lead with and have answered, you don't need to win with it and thus don't need to be precious about it. Foretell in general seems to be a nice upgrade to morph focusing more on splitting costs up. Almost a suspend style of effect leaving you with more control. I like the mechanic and look forward to seeing what else we get with the ability. It is noteworthy that you can protect key cards from hand disruption with foretell which could be a very small nerf to a few cards and arguably black in general.   

Dragonkin Berserker 6

The card to compare this with is Dragon Whisperer as both are small dorks with threatening mana investments. Berserker instantly jumps ahead on three points. Easier to cast. Better baseline thanks to first strike. Easier to activate both on cost and prerequisite. Whisperer can do more by itself but this is at odds with the dragon token generation. Generally you want to invest your mana in making another threat that sticks around rather than making an existing threat into that kind of thing for one turn at the same kinds of cost. You are just asking for trouble when you spend a turn pumping Whisperer and hitting in the air. Whoops Shock good games. Much as I rate the Berserker quite a bit above the Whisperer, which is a decent enough card, I still don't really expect this to perform all that well in cube. Red is OK for value and can do a lot more scary things with five mana than token dragons. Mostly I don't rate this card as I think that you will have to chump attack any time you have spare mana for token dragons. Seven mana total for a 5/5 token isn't good. A 2/2 that just sits there isn't great either. This does early game and late game things and while it does both quite well it doesn't do either above the bar for cube and so I think this will underperform and get cut despite looking like it should easily land a cube slot.

Runeforge Champion 1 

Seems powerful but obviously entirely hinges on how playable and common runes are. Tempo, two for one, recursion/tutoring and cost reductions. There is a lot of good stuff going on here. With few Runes on offer and fairly tame power levels on them I don't expect to see much of this for now. If we revisit the card type of runes then we can have another look at this. It is unfortunate that the white rune seems to be one of the least interesting. 

Resplendent Marshall 6

A powerful stand alone tribal support card. Base line this is a 3/3 flier for three which is a fine enough place to be. Then you throw onto that the potential for this to cast a couple of Basri's Solidarity and you have a very potent card indeed. With just the first trigger hitting good you have a card that is already a good chunk better than Benalish Marshall. It fliers, is easier to cast and the buff isn't lost when it dies, indeed, it may get bigger! There are absolutely some perks of Anthem effects over +1/+1 counters but when it comes to having them on creatures I prefer the one that sticks around. Sadly this Marshall has two big things holding it back. Firstly you need to have a fairly tribal deck where by a good 80% of your dorks share types. This is fairly easy to do in my cube with so many aggressive white dorks being humans and those that are not frequently having a profession type that you can match to a human like warrior or knight. It is still effort though and reduces the playability, perhaps more so than a WWW casting cost. Then we have the need of a dork in the bin to exile and this is a real pain. White doesn't do this easily and when it does it just means something got killed and now the Marshall will be buffing less things. Curving out with this in a way that it near the ceiling will require dorks in play and in the bin which is a fairly big ask. For what is a fairly boring and linear aggressive card I think this is just a touch too restrictive and conditional. The power is there for sure but I can't see it lasting in cube. 

Sigrid, God-Favoured 6

This is a reworked Banisher Priest. It has flash and first strike and even protection from gods, all of which add a lot to the card. The only drawback is that it has to hit attackers or blockers which is a big old drawback and easily worse than any of the perks are good on their own. Sigrid is also best on defence where you get to take out one attacker with the EtB and then another with first strike damage. The issue with that is you want this kind of card more in an aggressive deck. You lose all the value of the flash as well as damage that you could be forcing through when you use this during your attack. I do like this card and want it to perform but I can't really see it being better than a boring old Fairgrounds Warden. I will be giving this every opportunity to prove itself as it is interesting and seemingly very close on power level. Perhaps more midrange and control decks would be up for a card like this than I am crediting it with. This is why it is always good to give the marginal cards a chance. It is nice when they surprise you, especially the ones you like. 

Calamity Bearer 3

Take lame limp tribes and jam a few obscenely powerful cards with heavy tribal needs into the mix and see if you can elevate them seems to be the motto for Kaldheim tribal (other than elves of course who need no elevating). We are still a long way off giant tribal being strong in cube but Calamity Bearer goes a fair way to making it a thing. You can kill something and win on turn five with just this and a Bonecrusher Giant. That is pretty impressive for so few cards. Bearer isn't even a complete do nothing by himself, an effective 6/4 that scales well to buffs is quite a threat and fairly big by cube standards. While you wouldn't play this without other giants it wouldn't be bad when you happen to have no others about. 

Rise of the Dread Marn 3

Interesting but a little fiddly and situational for my liking. Odds on it will be pretty clear when the foretell is being used. That doesn't ruin it by any means but it adds to the issues. You need 3 tokens for this to be good, 2 is fine but hardly exciting, one or less is straight up terrible. Really for this to be good you want it to prevent the use of a Wrath effect which will be game winning but will also be against few archetypes and will cost you cards and mana to do so. Better off with cards that always do their thing like a Dread Wanderer for handling questions such as Wrath of God. I'll test this as it is quite cool but I'm sure this isn't worth a slot. Green needs this way more than black and neither Caller of the Claw or indeed Liliana's Standard Bearer have impressed in cube leaving this with low chances. 

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