Sunday 17 January 2021

Kaldheim Preliminary Review Part XI


Harald Unites the Elves 1

This should break apart any midrange game of attrition but that isn't a place cube elves find themselves in, either they go nuts and win or they don't. The immediate returns on this are nice for a saga that has more to give. Assuming you can keep a board presence the next two ages will set you up very nicely. This is a better tribal elf planeswalker than any of the planeswalkers that mention elves in many ways. Sadly I just can't see me ever running this in a cube elf deck, the tribe is just too good for this and this is too off brand for them. Perhaps I need to play elves in EDH so that I can justify running this. Or standard I guess. Mabey I need to try a grindy midrange elf deck and see how that goes. Can't imagine it is more powerful than existing builds but perhaps it has better resistance to counterplay or just a kinder matchup spread. 

Egon, God of Death / Throne of Death 5

Interesting package here. A three mana 6/6 with deathtouch is pretty big obviously but if you play it early it isn't getting much done for you. With support perhaps you can keep it for a couple of turns but without it is probably just a one turn wall. Now, 2B for a card and a Fog is actually a reasonable deal. Sadly it is only a Fog when your opponent cannot afford to attack into Egon, if they are killing walkers or you then they are going to be attacking in. They can also potentially remove Egon before attacking and effectively counterspell the card draw and Fog. Big without evasion isn't overly impressive and cards in the bin are a resource you are not thrilled to burn through. I would rather have a Gurmag Angler in play than Egon in the average case as Angler is sticking around and thus feels like a better use of graveyard resources. Egon is fine, as he cashes in for a card you can't really call him bad. But not being reliable or that useful of a threat you can't call him good either. 

Does Throne of Death make up for the lacklustre offerings of Egon? You ever heard of Crop Sigil? No, then probably Throne of Death isn't making many waves. I do like both of these cards but as yet I have not found a good use for them. They are too slow and incremental in their support. Self mill is something you want to do big and fast in 40 card decks. If you go at the pace this card suggests you often run into self mill issues and your support cards become dangerous. The card draw is nice but it is expensive and not exactly necessary when you have much lower cost to include cards like Castle Lochthwain you can play instead. Throne of Death has some Search for Azcanta vibes about it but do not be fooled. Lacking card quality and never flipping into a land really guts most of what you want out of the card. Sure, late game they are similar but early and midgame this does very little of what Search does for you. I use my Azcanta the Sunken Ruins for mana multiple times per activation to find cards on average. Mana and card quality are tpyically more important than card advantage and self mill when it comes to Search for Azcanta which is all Throne of Death is.

So, overall neither side of this card is bad but then neither side is especially good either. Seemingly they complement each other in that one is value based and the other tempo based but that isn't quite enough. You need at least part of the card to always be something you want and I think that this card falls short here. You will be sat looking at two options for cards you can play, neither of which really help you in the situation all that much. I really like the card and want it to be good but I doubt it is cube worthy, even if it is close. 

Bound in Gold 6.5

This is surprisingly close to Oblivion Ring in power. This doesn't deal with passive effects which is pretty lame as far as removal goes. On the plus side it doesn't retrigger EtB effects should it be removed which makes it a bit safer. It also has the added perk of being able to turn off utility lands like Azcanta, the Sunken Ruin or Kessig Wolf Run. This is perfectly playable in most cubes and isn't going to ever look bad. There could easily be cube environments where this is preferable to an Oblivion Ring. I think white can do better than this or Oblivion Ring for removal these days though, I like my cards more consistent, cheaper, more powerful, or more versatile. This is just quite dull and fair. 

Elderfang Disciple 5

Elves gets a Ravenous Rats. Cool. Not overly relevant though. Discard isn't really what elf decks do. If a midrange elf deck does materialize then this is good filler for it but I am not playing it in any of the more mana or combo focused builds which are the norm. You can also just play this as Ravenous Rats and not a tribal card, Rats and the many cards like them are generally fine playable filler dorks. They are not great but scale pretty well with a load of things and are just acceptable little cube cards great for Yawgmoth, Recurring Nightmare, Skullclamp, or just holding back a 2/1 beater. Broadly the zombie version is the best for cube as there is much more in the way of support for the tribe, if not generally, certainly in black. 

Giant Ox 1

Likely more use in builds with Doran than those with vehicles. Pretty narrow and low power but does at least have a home and perhaps more if some nifty pairing arises with Ox and an exotic new vehicle. 

Raider's Karve 0

If this searched up land like Sword of the Animist I would be interested. As it is the card is slow, low power and unreliable. 

Codespell Cleric 0

Too needy to be a good cheap card. The payoff isn't very impressive when you can fulfil it and the card is shocking when you can't. It is super hard to pull it off turn one as well which is when you want a one mana 2 power dork most. 

Mammoth Growth 0

Too much mana overall. The extra pump over a one mana spell just isn't worth the extra mana, regardless of when you pay it. Nice card and a nice tool to have foretell on but overall too low power, could really have used a trample gain as well. 

Burning Rune-Demon 3

Half a Gifts Ungiven (pretty sure that card actually exists but can't remember what it is called or apparently find it on scryfall so perhaps it doesn't) on a 6/6 flyer for six. Some nice value and utility but not super impactful immediately and fairly hard to fully abuse. I like my support cards and my value cards rather cheaper. I want my six drops to invoke a massive swing in the game and have good odds of winning right away. This is powerful for sure but I can't see it breaking into cube play. He is not quite there for draft but he is even further from the mark in constructed as his cost is too great to be worth building to abuse the EtB effect and as such I can't see him getting singleton play in 40 card decks anywhere. At least EDH will love him and give him a home. A bit of a bad Cavalier of Gales. 

Demon Bolt 1

Much as I love the foretell on this card I am not playing it over Soul Seer and the five damage it offers. If you are playing burn that doesn't hit players you want to be really sure it is killing most dorks effectively. Four damage is just not enough for the mana here. The card is fine and I appear to really like all the foretell cards, this just isn't getting it done compared to alternatives on offer limiting it to mechanic themed decks only.

Crush the Weak 2

Yet another card I like with foretell that isn't up to the grade. This just isn't killing enough things in cube, nor dealing with the things it can kill quick enough. Play Pyroclasm, or Sweltering Sun and not this. Cards that cannot kill toughness at least equal to CMC I have found to be too inconsistent as sweepers in cube. 

Starnheim Unleashed 1

Sadly this is a token producer making it a bit risky. As a four mana play this is terrible as you just punt to bounce and most other removal pretty hard. Foretell allows for a better return but it is pricey. Seven total mana for a pair of 4/4 flying token dorks. I can get that on the back side of a Plains if I want these days! Sure, I can do that at the five mana mark with this, but then I can't tap it for mana so hard to make a case that this is better. This is just clunky and easily answered as far as big threat cards go. It isn't a weak card but I can't think of a build I would want this in and certainly don't want it in a drafting cube. 

Dual Strike 1

A lovely effect for pairing with foretell and so obviously potentially dangerous that they limited the CMC of the thing it can copy. Sadly this is too restrictive and situational to really get much attention. 

Frostpyre Arcanist 0

This is a potent card outside of singleton, especially with Accumulated Knowledge style cards kicking around in the meta. For most cubes and EDH it is sadly just a do nothing.

Basalt Ravager 6.5

This is looking like it could be decent even outside of tribal. The baseline is a ping and getting a Shock should be pretty common. The occasional high rolls however probably pull the average to 2.5 to 3, which is the point at which it looks better than Flame Tongue Kavu. Hitting any target is really nice and stops that awful moment when you get tricked into having the Kava shoot himself. It is underwhelming when you ping but it is still a 4/2 you can get to doing stuff with. The high rolls of doing big face damage or sniping out planeswalkers while also getting onto the board likely make up for that. This card is certainly playable in any cube but I'm not sure it reaches the level of good in that many cubes. Add to this the fact that red is bristling with good 4 drops and other high CMC bombs. The is quite like a red Ravenous Chupacabra. It is functional filler, value removal. You play them because they are simultaneously value and tempo, and while not busted in either area pulling ahead in both is pretty assured victory. As a tribal card you can probably play it anywhere, goblins for example. It's own tribes get +1 on the scaling from Ravager himself but neither really excel at getting lots of bodies on the board. Giants has few enough good cards that I am happy playing this even if the damage is always low. Wizards I don't know, there are probably loads of ways to build them presently. This is still nice for them but perhaps quite clunky. Mostly I just expect to have a couple of thopters or humans or goblins or wizards in play more often than not and think that this will be useful and playable and effective as a result. Worthy of a trail run for sure because sometimes you are too clunky for Hazoret to shine or not red enough to cast Torbran etc. 

Weathered Runestone 3

This appears to be a two mana Grafdigger's Cage with a little bit more scope on what things cannot be unconventionally deployed. Good sideboard card and nice to have redundancy on such an effect. Not a maindeck card nor a limited card but none the less one that will get some action. 

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