Monday 31 May 2021

Preliminary Reviews Modern Horizons 2 Part V


Part IV will follow once I have English images for most of the cards.

Out of Time 5

Much as I didn't give love to Suspend in my reviews this similar seeming card is far more appealing. This is mass removal and it scales rather nicely. The ratio of dorks made each game to the number of turns of a game is heavily weighted to the dork side of things. This is a lot lot more removal than Paralax wave and much closer to a Wrath. It mostly just does what you need a Wrath to do. Even if the game goes on long enough for the dorks to all come back you have likely bought yourself enough time to be able to handle that. White might now have enough decent mass removal to not need this little tool. There is a lot of value to a three mana board clear so I will be giving this a test. It also has the added perk of handling everything no fuss, it doesn't care about indesrtuctible stuff or things that trigger on death. It just neatly gets everything gone for a bit and carries on with life. 

Artifact Dual Lands 6

Well these certainly open the eye. While too slow for most cubes they have a decent chance in budget or artifact themed cubed. Further to that they likely have a prominent place in a variety of artifact themed builds. Entering play tapped is a big turn off but these being fixing, artifacts, and indestructible is a little too good. No risk of getting blown out. Extra consistency and extra support. Worth the cost I am sure. I feel like I would probably even play these in affinity builds to support the main colours. Not many, likely just one, but still. 

Discerning Taste 1

Sorcery speed Impulse card quality with Ransack the Lab yard filling qualities and a dash of lifegain. A powerful array of effects but at quite the mana cost. You likely would need all the synergies to align before this is looking playable. Too clunky for use in the more powerful formats. Nice to see more of this kind of card generally though. 

Underworld Cookbook 5

A very useful little support card that likely replaces Putrid Imp as the best discard outlet for a number of archetypes. It is more robust and more useful. I am happy playing this anywhere looking to discard. I might consider it in a  food deck too. Obviously too low power to run without high synergies.

Asmo 6

This is three cards in one. It is a zero (with As Foretold effects) or one mana 3/3 putting it in the Wild Nacatl camp of beaters. It finds you a card from your deck giving you that two for one value. Lastly Asmo is a removal tool of sorts turning any pair of food you might have into removal. This is a whole lot of card. It is easy to support but it does need it. I don't think there is near enough discard or food stuff in most cubes for this to be a wise inclusion but you could make it happen. Certainly Asmo is a good reason to be looking to make madness decks again!

Glimpse of Tomorrow 2

This is a fairly naughty looking card. Too narrow for cube, likely even combo cubes. As a build around however this has a lot of potential. I can see a list using a load of things like Wily Goblin that put permanents into play on the cheap. Glimpse is easy to cheat out for free and not even that slow to suspend out. If you have invested in getting permanents onto the board, likely a pile of treasure and other artifact tokens, then you can do some wild things with this. Sounds like a lot of fun! Sadly it sounds more like something you might do in modern than singleton.

Rift Sower 8

This is Search for Tomorrow in dork form. The 3 toughness is lovely, it makes this sufficiently robust that it doesn't feel like that bad of a deal compared to Birds of Paradise. This ramps, fixes, and has a relevant presence on the board. This will be better than things like Llanowar Elves in a number of decks. Anything that is heavier green and more aggressive with a good number of high tempo three drops is obviously preferring the classic Elf. A more midrange list with more relevant weight in the four and higher CMC slots however, especially a multicoloured one, is going to be rather more interested in this I suspect. Missing that one turn of mana production is going to be worth that fixing and toughness. One mana ramp cards are absolutely premium in cube. They are the defining thing that makes green good. More are always welcome. When Gilded Goose is a strong cube card then Rift Sower is a clear lock in. I wonder how many more cards of this quality before I consider cutting Boreal Druid (the weakest 1 mana ramp card I include)? Probably a long way yet, I suspect I will just allow my cube to expand in size and include more interesting cards as I get the volume of cheap cards to support them. While cards like this only ramp you to a four drop at the same speed as two mana ramp like the classic Rampant Growth there is a significant gulf in power between ones you deploy for one mana on turn one compared to doing so on turn two for two mana. The mana saving is relevant but it is more about the quality of cards and what you can do. Having two total mana is a whole lot more options and spells and power. I suspect you deploy something relevant before your third turn over three times as often when using the likes of Search for Tomorrow over Rampant Growth. The power difference will also be significantly higher on average (although not double by any means). A supremely welcome card. 

Arcbound Mouser 4

This is more of a sidegrade to Arcbound Worker than an upgrade but one drop redundancy is really nice. Having a decent chunk of cheap modular dorks and artifact dorks with counters on them lets you consistently empower synergies. Yet more cool directions to take artifact aggro decks in. Lifelink here is minor, the W cost instead of colourless is generally an overall downgrade on Worker but if you have decent white mana and are playing Worker, you also play this. 

Step Through 1.5

This is a tutor for wizards. Pretty useless elsewhere. You really don't want to be casting this if you can help it. Not many decks want to tutor wizards and so this will not see much play. If and when they do however the stock in this will jump significantly. 

Galvanic Relay 1

This is too narrow for drafting cubes. Just play Light up the Stage or Jeska's Will or something. When you are forced into playing this for one it is pretty shameful. It isn't looking great until you hit it for at least three. At that point it feels like you could do rather better with your storm count than playing this. 

Tormod's Cryptkeeper 0

Just not efficient or quick enough at doing anything. As a 2/1 with a free sac ability to do this with no need to be over summoning sickness then maybe. Neither half of this card is good so you just play a good version of the effect you actually want, be that yard hate or a dork. 

Dress Down 5

An odd card for sure. This is very playable and not without uses. A two mana cantrip with upside is the playable aspect covered. It is all down to how good those uses are. You can turn off a mana dork and use this much the same way you might Ice down a land. You can use this to get around indestructible or hexproof. It will turn off on death triggers. There are lots this does but it is generally both narrow and situational. Those kinds of cards just don't wind up in decks, there are just too many good cards fighting for slots that the aimless ones miss out. I will test this, it is different, useful, fun, and reasonably powered enough, I just cannot see it lasting. 

Junk Winder 2

Too narrow for drafting cubes but really only just. This does some decent disruption once in play and can come out fairly easily. You really don't need many tokens in play to make this a very reasonable price and that is pretty easy to do. Imagine the horror of this with the likes of Rabblemaster or really any of those red three drop token producers. Even so, this is just a little needy and clunky to compete with cube top end threats. Certainly a card I will look to play with in some constructed build when I can. Playing this for UU is a thing I have added to my bucketlist! 

Gaea's Will 5

Yawgmoth's Will colour shifted and suspended. Good choices. Looking forward to seeing what I can do with this. Very much a card you need to support but then so is Yawgmoth's Will. This will feature in some powered, and most combo cubes. I doubt however it is getting close to un-powered and more conventional cubes. Suspend  four is quite a lot so you either need to lead with this and hope you get there on the turn it pops or you need to find a way to cheat it out like As Foretold. The latter is likely preferable as you cannot use this like Yawgmoth's in the middle of your main phase after cracking all your saved up Rituals, Petals, etc. That makes this new version rather harder to use but the payoff is that you will be saving three mana on your big turn which is pretty massive. You can also just use this for value of course but then it is kind of like a dodgy Ancestral Visions and is quite hard to get excited about. One thing I can't work out is why it is worded so clumsily. Why does it not just say you may play cards from your graveyard this turn? Why does is stipulate specifically lands and spells with different terms when just one will do? Would love to hear theories.

Friday 28 May 2021

Preliminary Reviews Modern Horizons 2 Part III


Young Necromancer 1

A middleman of reanimation like Karmic Guide. This is weaker than Guide although more suited in colour terms. Given that Karmic Guide sees almost no cube play anymore these days I don't expect to be seeing much of this guy. Not bad just not exciting or needed. Perhaps useful in conjunction with things that recur specifically cards with low power. 

Steel Dromedary 1

Cute but very slow. A bit of a wall and a bit of pump. You only play this with a significant +1/+1 counters theme and even then it likely needs to be a colourless list otherwise you just have more powerful options. 

Garth One Eye 1

Cool card. Very EDH. Not sure this has a place in 1v1 and if it does it is all about the combo abuses and not the playing with it fairly. The power is there on this one but failing the removal test on top of being all the colours rather ruins it. 

Grist, the Hunger Tide 9

This seems like an upgrade to Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast which is a very strong cube walker. Top ten for sure, quite possibly top five. As such I suspect Grist will be a top five kind of planeswalker. Not only is he more potent than Daretti he is also far more likely to pop out on turn two thanks to being green which is extra scary. Grist is also far more easily recurred than other walkers thanks to his passive meaning removal is often a temporary answer. Grist either churns out 1/1 tokens or he casts Bone Shards for you! Sac a dork on the -2 is a cost but the +1 supports it nicely as do the colours you are in and the general look of the meta in most cubes! It is generally easier to support as your first activation than sacrificing an artifact too. The +1 is great even assuming you never hit an insect which is fairly reasonable to assume in cube! At least presently. A three mana walker that grows while developing the board is huge. These insects can attack too which is massive. No other three walker can grow while making things that usefully attack. Oko obviously can but at least that is two activation to make a food then Elk it. And Oko is so damn stupid that comparisons to him are fairly pointless. Not only does Grist's +1 make dorks but it also mills which is amazing these days. Between things that recur and things that use generic stuff in the bin as fuel there is a lot of value to self milling. Even the ultimate is pretty neat. It works with the +1, is easy to get to, and scales pretty well as the game goes on. Grist just does all the things in a very cheap and convenient way. Great answer, good development and a threat at all times, all for a bargain of a price. 

Priest of Fell Rites 6

This seems pretty strong. It is a cheap Reanimation effect that has some counterplay to it. It is a bit of an Unburial Rites that permits disruption to reduce mana cost. It will be pretty easy to make a fatty with this on turn three, and for only two mana in addition to the costs of getting your fatty in the bin. Priest is also good enough to play just normally, you don't need to be putting Griselbrand in the bin or anything. Just getting back something you want more than a Bear and three life. The unearth adds real value and utility allowing you to mill or discard this and still get use out of it. It might be a bit aimless early in the game without combo support in my cube on top of being a bit gold. It is certainly a bit slow for the likes of legacy Reanimator, probably modern too. Combo cubes are the best place for this I think. Worth a test for sure. 

Aeve, Progenitor Ooze 1

Lots of stats if you storm it out. If this is the fourth thing you do then you get a 5/5 Aeve and a 4/4, 3/3, and a 2/2 Ooze token. It scales up pretty fast from that point. But big deal. I can get bodies and/or stats far easier. There isn't much exciting about this card. It is a bit more efficient than Empty the Warrens but it is a more awkward colour for such things and still needs you to give stuff haste in order for it to be a good win condition. In the range where this is good and Empty the Warrens isn't you have cards that don't need to be stormed. Beyond that you just have actual good storm win conditions. The floor on this is also quite comic. Worse than Grey Ogre by some margin is a whoopsie. 

Kitchen Imp 2

Great little card when you have the discard outlets. Rubbish if not, and thus this is very much a build around card. And a somewhat fair one at that. Luckily in the places you play it you will be able to consider it much the same way you would consider a one drop threat even if you rarely play it turn one. This lowers the bar sufficiently to make this actually quite a strong boon for a madness build. 

Zabaz, the Glimmerwasp 4

Super Arcbound Worker. While this too is a build around card Zabaz has a lot better prospects than Kitchen Imp! Artifact aggro is a much stronger archetype than madness and Zabaz has a much more assured spot in such places. I suspect I will play this in almost every deck in which I also play Arcbound Ravager from here on in. By itself a great little utility and support one drop that is option rich and decently powered. In concert with the right cards it occasionally just gets out of hand. 

Chef's Kiss 1

Can be quite brutal but mostly is unreliable, situational, and narrow. Best case this ruins someone who got keen with a burn spell or a Vindicate. The norm will be having this sat in hand doing nothing. 

Subtlety 9

This is a tempo card far more than it is a counterspell. It isn't even a Memory Lapse as the opponent can stick the thing on the bottom if they wish. Lapse is very much at it's best when you put something back that is no longer a good draw. Memory Lapse the counterspell targetting my Teferi Time Raveler for example. This answers nothing, just delays. What this card does is trade your card resources for the opponent's mana and this is a mighty fine trade to be able to do in blue. You go 2 for 1 on cards and X for 0 on mana when evoked. This means you pay a card for X mana which is essentially what Force of Will does that makes it so strong. Given Black Lotus is trading a card for 3 mana you don't need to be hitting that big for this to be very powerful. Hit a three drop and get to convert the worst blue card in your hand into a Black Lotus? Sounds good. That is likely near the floor of the card too. Cube is a higher CMC format than modern by a decent chunk and so this will typically be more brutal in cube. 

Most threats get hit by this which allows blue to safely make a play and generally not risk losing as a result. You might well get your play answered if it is a planeswalker or some kind of threat of your own but you are unlikely to have them sneak out a card that ultimately just beats you. This means you either pull ahead a lot of stay even. The kind of play where you make a walker and then they kill it with a haste fatty is just devastating and usually loses you the game. This is the perfect situation for Subtlety to shine. Flop out your Jace, they try and kill it with some dragon or whatnot and you put the dragon back on top and win with your planeswalker to nothing board and turn in hand. This is also a total beast when you play it as a four drop. You get a relevant body, you go two for one in cards and likely around one for one in mana too. You blank their turn while progressing your own. That is pretty cheating. This card offers you the option to play quite proactive magic as blue. It is high tempo or value and tempo. It is versatile and well suited and oh so powerful. This is an easy 9 while Grist was a close 9 by comparison. It may transpire in testing that this is a 9.5 card given how I expect it to over perform in cube compared to other formats. Yes, Force of Will is better as a pitch card. This however is still great when you hard cast it while also flipping from a pure tempo card to one that is also value. Imagine if Force of Will was actually Dismiss when you didn't pitch cost cast it! That is easily enough to break this for cube. I am braced for this to be oppressive. 

Monoskelion 7

None of the scaling or versatility of Walking Ballista but this is rather better at the most commonly used cost of two. You get more stats and you get to ping without losing the body as well. This is a very tidy early play with ok tempo and high option density. Yes, it is weak late but it is not the worst. It still scales nicely with +1/+1 counter stuff. I think this has a shot in cube, just a nice little support card. Feels like green will love it. It is low power but just the kind of thing a number of decks are looking for. 

Chatterstorm 6

Choo Choo! Half an Empty the Warrens and as such a very reasonable card. You can play this in a lot of normal places and have it be fine. At two tokens it is likely great for any tribal deck. At three it is great period. A little needy and unsupported for most cubes but a useful tool to keep in mind. A card that will certainly see play in multiple places. Presently no cubes really support this kind of thing but having this kind of thing is certainly how change can start to happen! I would love to have a green take on a go wide cheap tokens plan that is both viable and consistent enough for a draft cube. Dust off my Sproutswarms and Cryptolith Rites! 

Underworld Hermit 1

This is a squirrel card that probably doesn't go in the tribal lists as they will be green based and even if they have black mana they will not have much in the way of devotion. This smacks more of some kind of mono black aristocrats card. Likely too costly to ever see 1v1 play but some serious scaling power here for sure. Black isn't great at tokens but this dude can be.

Thursday 27 May 2021

Preliminary Reviews Modern Horizons 2 Part II


Prismatic Ending 7

A sorcery speed Isolate with some rather potent scaling. Sadly it scales up with colours of mana rather than just mana making it rather the gold card. If you have access to all five colours this is premium removal. Access to three makes this good removal. Access to just two colours makes this on the mediocre side and in a mono coloured list it is just not doing enough. I cannot easily evaluate this as I normally do. It is effectively a gold card but while I would say it needs three colours it certainly isn't narrow in the way a three colour gold card is. You don't even "need" those extra colours. You can play this in a two colour deck and toss in a few spare duals or what have you. When a card is fine with base colours and just gets better with more it is a far easier and more convenient splash. Kenrith, Valki, or Plaarg are examples of this. They are soft gold rather than hard gold if you will. Prismatic Ending is the perfect one for one removal as it goes 1 for 1 on both cards and mana. While 1 for 1 removal that cannot get tempo isn't that exciting sounding, especially for a gold card there are some very strong perks with this. Broad target range and exile certainly are great. The extra perk this has over so much that is so broad in range is that you can use this early in the game to handle a cheap card. You cannot take down a Soul Scar Mage with a Vindicate in good time. You can with Ending. I think that is enough to tip it over the edge and make it cube worthy. I suspect I will see this in decks that are splashing white rather than being heavy white. It smacks of a green card as far as cube is concerned! 

Squirrel Sanctuary 4

I love this card. Cheap, useful, ongoing, cute, flexible, option rich, synergic. I want it to be good more than it is sadly. It is an amazing support card for the right deck but that is not a limited cube deck. You want more punch in those and punch this lacks. A one mana 1/1 followed by two mana 1/1s if you have a mana spare when your non-token dorks die. Hardly gripping stuff. You really need those tokens to do a lot of work before you can call this value. Two permanents in one very cheap card is always good to see. I expect to see this in decks beyond just tribal, enchantress, and aristocrat lists and already having three potential homes is impressive. Cheap support cards are in high demand! 

Ravenous Squirrel 7.5

This is a beast of a card. It threatens to get very large very quickly in certain kinds of deck. Despite being a synergy card I expect this is still good enough to perform in cubes. A little like Champion of the Parish. While this will be far more potent in decks built around doing things that trigger it there is plenty in cube that passively does for this little 1/1 to get good work done. We have clues, treasure and food. Tribe Elders, Village Rites, Baubles, Chromatic Stars, Carrion Feeders, Priest of the Forgotten Gods, Retrofitter Foundry, Yawgmoth. The list goes on and on. The activated ability is great too. It helps it grow when there is nothing passively doing it and allows you to cash things in for life and cards. It isn't super mana efficient but it is a pretty reasonable rate. You don't need it for the card to be good but it does push the card quite a lot, especially in cube. Sac outlets are nice and ones with a lot of scope and good returns are always welcome. This card is very playable and offers synergy and utility while also being a pretty scary threat. It will massively empower some decks and fit neatly into many more. 

Squirrel Sovereign 2.5

A strong lord for a tribe that is getting a lot of love at the moment. A tribe that also really suits a lord as it goes wide pretty well. This gets upgraded in rating as the tribe improves. I am presently assuming squirrels are viable but not top tier. It will not take much more of the quality we have seen here for them to jump up the tiers though. 

Chatterfang, Squirrel General 5

Potent in both mass token decks and squirrel decks. The body is also fairly reasonable baseline so while you do need support for Chatterfang to perform you don't need all that much. Cool card, plenty of potential homes and no slouch on power. Not quite enough general support in draft cubes for this to be worth it given that you do somewhat want this to have access to black mana. Close though which is scary for a card that is so clearly a tribal synergy card!  

Fractured Sanity 6

This is a filthy powerful mill card. It hits very hard, is cheap, it is mono coloured, and it has two modes of action depending on your card/mana situational needs. This is one of the best mill card for cube. Mill is super tedious in 40 card decks and not all that fun to play against regardless of deck size. I recommend against supporting it in your cubes. If you are sadistic enough to support mill in your cube then this is top rate. Just know that you are a bad person. 

Serra's Emissary 1

This is pretty underwhelming. It hits that trough between top end playables and things you recur, being too costly for the former and too weak for the latter. This does lock out some decks but not enough and not in an interesting or powerful way. Chose creatures and win if they don't have removal. Fun. It isn't even all that good when naming non-creatures. Removal options are found on so many types you are unlikely to protect against much. Even narrow lists like storm will have ways to play around this without having to answer it. Iona this is not. Feels more like a Pristine Angel, Blinding Angel, or even just a Beloved Chaplain! 


Break Ties 3

At first glance this seems too expensive for what it offers. The effects either struggle to be worth a card or struggle to be worth the mana. At two to cast I would be more keen. I will give this a little test as white hungers for utility but I have very low hopes. You don't really want it at all if you can't use the reinforce to good effects which makes most of the slower decks decidedly disinterested. 

Late to Dinner 2

Nice to have some Resurrect redundancy but this isn't really what white is about nor is this card very exciting power wise. A food is not making much difference to a four mana card's power level (obviously unless it uses food somehow like Wicked Wolf...)

Spreading Insurrection 1

Too narrow to rely on as a win condition. Perhaps a Wish target you might have for a storm or storm like deck. This can fairly easily win the game in the right setting with a low storm count, the kind you could muster with Lava Dart, Gut Shot and the like but it is still just way too situational to be running. 

Lucid Dreams 0

Cute scaling that just screams Emrakul the Promised End. Sadly the card is a five mana sorcery that has a shocking floor and not all that exciting of a ceiling all things considered. 

Tourach's Canticle 0

Super Stupor tra la la la la laa laa. Far too slow for cube. 

Rise and Shine 2

Useful redundancy and some nice flexibility on use. Needs a build around and isn't all that powerful itself, not at two mana at least. 

Sword of Hearth and Home 6

I like the effects on this Sword's triggers and the protection is fairly useful as far as connecting goes. This isn't better than Fire and Ice although it might be the second most suitable for cube play, even if it is not the second most powerful. It isn't as oppressive as some Swords nor as narrow as others. It does interesting and generally useful stuff too. I like it and will give it a little test but mostly I think this just lacks the raw power to last in my cube. My cube has only had room for one Sword for absolutely ages now. I occasionally try out a second for a bit and it just fails to get any play or do much of anything. I do think this would be my first choice for second Sword if somehow my cube does want that second one but that isn't much of an accolade.  

Void Mirror 1

Very potent card that will do a lot of work in older formats. This is a Chalice of the Void or Trinisphere sort of card but mostly just for the eternal settings, I am not even sure this does all that much in modern. It certainly isn't all that exciting for cube. You would need to have an incredibly heavily artifact synergy cube for it to be good and then it is probably just oppressive and lacking in fun. Still, a big card as far as impact on the game. A sideboard card for constructed events in cube style play at best really. 

Saturday 22 May 2021

Preliminary Reviews Modern Horizons 2 Part I


Urza's Saga 7

Everything about this card entices and excites. As you read on it just carries on delivering. I love the name, I love the types, I love the effects. It is epic. The pricing structure on Modern Horizons rubbed me up the wrong way last time round and I assume it will be the same this year. Opening with a card of this design calibre is a great way to get me on side. So, is this card good? What does it do? It is a land, an enchantment, a saga, a tutor, a mana source, a threat. This card does a whole lot of stuff very cheaply but it does it slowly. As a land drop this sucks it multiple ways. It is vulnerable to removal due to the extra types and it puts itself in the bin after a few turns anyway so unless you are finding actual power from your deck it is a land with a very limited mana output. Broadly this is not the sort of thing you want to open with. I am sure it is sufficiently broken that it will be a great turn one play in plenty of combo decks but more fair play decks will aim to have this be a much later land drop or better still something they cheat into play. It is one of those cards that is just everything positive, it costs you no cards nor mana, only a land drop, yet generates you both in a selection of ways. Thanks to how saga triggers work this can be three mana over three turns or it can be a sink of four mana to generate a pair of construct beaters, or indeed a mix of the two before it cashes in for your trinket. While this card is all good value it is slow acting and thus remains quite fair. I am happy playing this in any deck with sufficient targets for it to find. The range of utility if offers across the board is just far too enticing to turn down. Part Horizon land and part planeswalker. This will have plenty of homes from the obvious generic artifact ones to some more exotic brews. It is likely a little on the narrow side for unpowered cube play on the whole in much the same way that Trinket Mage is. When your 3rd age trigger gets you nothing the card is rather underwhelming so you need multiple targets and that is not easy when there isn't the extra volume of them courtesy of the power.

Diamond Lion 3

LED on a 2/2 for 2, pretty simple stuff. It takes the danger somewhat out of the LED element by adding two to the cost, adding vulnerabilities, and giving it summoning sickness. They increased the scope of the card by giving it the creature type and stats in payment for making it safer. It is too low powered on the creature side and too narrow on the mana side to make it into many cubes outside of the very combo focused ones however I am sure this will work its way into combo decks all over the place from modern to EDH thanks to being a cheap burst mana source. Almost all of them do eventually! 

Brainstone 5

A much better Conch Horn, or indeed a generally worse Brainstorm. Having this effect on a colourless 1CMC permanent is a pretty big deal and so this will see plenty of play. Being able to break up the costs into 1 and 2 mana takes some of the sting out of the cost, which is savagely high for card quality. It is a little power light and low tempo for most cubes. I might consider it if I had very strong artifact or miracle themes on the go. I might also look at this in slow white decks as they ache for cards like this. Worthy of testing as it is convenient with a known to be powerful effect that is hard to come across.  

Yusri, Fortune's Flame 1

A fun card and a strong one for those who like to flip coins in commander. Yusri is surprisingly close to good for a coin toss card. It gives you options and it evens out RNG with a lot of potential flips all in all resulting in a cool little card. 

Flametongue Yearling 8

This is clearly great. It is tempo and value all complete with scaling. There are really only two downsides to this card. It is useless when your opponent is dorkless and it is RR to play making it a little narrower and a little more awkward to blow people out with early. The best mode for efficiency with this is at two where you get a reasonable body and reasonable damage outlay for the cost. As you move up to four and six mana modes the mana efficiency dwindles but the card remains decent tempo and value none the less. There is certainly enough creatures and heavy red decks that this will see sufficient play. It will be a decent help to the budding midrange and control red decks too. The more I look at this the more I see a kind of creature slant on Searing Blaze. 

Thrasta, Tempest's Roar 2

Huge green dork. Questing Beast's big bro. It is pretty hard to get the cost of this down effectively in an unpowered cube. You have some free artifacts, a handful of free viable free spells, and then some less suitable but acceptable cheap cantrip style things. Paying consistently less than six for this seems very hard in any sort of unpowered cube setting and that is probably that for the limited side of things. Obviously in powered cube the existence of things like Mox Emerald and Black Lotus make cheating this out almost trivial if things are going well. I am not sure how much you want a big dumb dork in such places or if the consistency will be high enough but the power certainly isn't lacking. You can also build around this in rotisserie style events but without more green storm style payoffs I am not biting. If you only have one payoff you want it to win, this is powerful for sure but it isn't a win, you need more on top and so we need to see more cards in this kind of range. 

Unmarked Grave 3

Very bad Entomb this is. Likely still good enough for decks that want such things. Might well need to make build concessions based on the non-legendary clause but that just leads to variation which is cool. The only thing I wish is that this and Entomb were closer and had pros and cons rather than on being a Lightning Bolt and the other a Volcanic Hammer. Chain Lightning and Incinerate make for a much more interesting pair with near identical combined power. 

Profane Tutor 6

While this isn't in the same league as Vamp and Demonic it seems like it is fairly comfortably in the next block down. It is cheap and clean with the delay not being too brutal. It is even abusable with the various cheat out free stuff cards. Almost certainly too slow and clunky for cubes without combo decks but as soon as you have them this is well worth it. It curves fairly nicely as a turn two play that lets you find something turn four and have all your mana up. A small delay is an advantage then as you invest up front freeing up more valuable mana later while gaining information in the interim.

Grief 8.5

Unmask but with a value mode. Being a bad lategame card is the only real downside of Unmask and so this is just all round great. If you are under pressure evoke it out, if not just roll it out as a two for one at four mana. This will perform better in more powerful cubes, the zero cost scales rather well with increasing speed of format. It will still perform great in normal cubes though. The four mana mode is good, the zero mana mode is often amazing. With cards like Recurring Nightmare and Ephemerate the name Grief is entirely appropriate. Same goes for the rarity... This is an effect black wanted more of for turn one which is great news. What scares me a little is that this is a modal card where both modes are really top notch. I have run Unmask in loads of decks and iterations of cube. I am pretty sure this exact card without the evoke would be decent in my cube. Not quite Gonti levels but not far behind. Certainly just Grief in 4 drop mode feels better than Chupacabra which itself is a solid and highly played card with a lot of parallels.  Modal cards don't need to be powerful to be good, just suitable and Grief is very powerful and very suitable. Despite only giving this an 8.5/10 this is still a card I have put a little mental warning note on. This might be too good, but probably more for other formats than cube. 

Rishadan Dockhand 6.5

This is pretty nuts. One of the few things that kept Port fair was that you were effectively paying two mana to deny one mana. It required that you use it skilfully. This bugger goes one for one on mana denial and feels like it could be really brutal in a list with powerful two drop lords, Aether Vials. low curve and the likes of Spreading Sea to back it up. Scary card. Will really hurt control. Or decks with billions of colours. Probably a useful tool to have in modern but I can't see it being too popular. I think this one card has a real chance of making fish top tier. As for cube it is a little more interesting. Blue doesn't really have many high tempo strategies that can exploit a card like this. Izzet tempo is presently the only one that springs to mind. Compared to Port this also has the downside of not being a land and not tapping for mana and generally being useful. If you are not tapping lands with this it is not worth it and so that commands a more well suited archetype than Rishadan Port does in order to perform. This is a little too focused and narrow while also not having quite enough in the way of homes for cube. It is absolutely the kind of card that gives a real push to archetypes and so perhaps this opens up some possibilities. To put that another way, this might be strong enough for it to be worth altering the build of my cube to provide sufficient support for decks that this will be good in. If it isn't and my cube remains as is then this little dude doesn't quite get there I think. A very similar storey to Clever Lumimancer I suspect. 

Timeless Dragon 6

What is not to love? Utility, value, nostalgia. All good things. Have two big fliers. Or one flier and one land as you need. You can spend six on this or nine on this as required. It is not a bomb card by any means but it is very user friendly and convenient. You can play it most places happily too. The only downsides are low raw power and a bit bland. Convenience goes a long way but this is fairly high cost. All told I think white has better things to do these days which is kind of a shame. This is the kind of card I love and that makes the game better but power is such now that you can do some really broken stuff with this kind of mana and so you probably should aim to be doing that mostly. Obviously I want this to succeed and will give it every chance to do so but I would certainly bet against.  

Dakkon, Shadow Slayer 6

This is impressively well balanced. Normally three mana walkers are dangerous as they can come out before there is much in play to threaten them. If Dakkon does this he has sufficiently low loyalty that he isn't very exciting. Likely he kills a dork and gets some scry done. Good but not game breaking. You are better off waiting till you can get at least 5 loyalty on him so that you can instantly kill something and do so again shortly after. Unless you are killing stuff there is no value to be had with Dakkon. The -6 is a bit of a non event in cubes without combo. Nothing is big enough to make it worth the opportunity cost of exiling two dorks. Nice art, flavour, and balance. Sadly I think a little too narrow and fair to really stand out in cube. The kind of card that fits in but probably not getting enough action. Esper is a lot less common these days now that black and white have a decent depth in mass removal options. I will certainly give this a test as it is cool. Games go a lot longer and so I am perhaps undervaluing the power of making this for 3 mana four open to do other stuff and seven loyalty to mess around with. That might be game-breakingly good which is nice for a card you can play on three and have it be fine at worst.