Monday 11 April 2022

New Capenna Preliminary Review Part II


Brokers Charm 3

Certainly quite the upgrade on Treva's Charm! The upgrade of a loot into draw two is pretty significant but that is hardly relevant as Treva's Charm has not seen action for well over a decade. Despite this being a whole lot better than Treva's Charm I do not expect it to see much play either. An instant speed Divination is something that lends itself to a control deck while the fight style removal mode lends itself to an aggressive or midrange build. Neither of the removal modes are above curve either resulting in a card that is almost always a tempo cost. Yes, it can be value and it can be disruption but it is lacking in power and suitability which is all a bit damning for a 3 colour support card. 

Disciplined Duelist 2

A reasonable little combat dork but too gold and linear to excite for cube action. I like the (divine) shield mechanic but the cost of it is a lot on this one. Unsurprisingly the effect sits pretty neatly near persist and undying, likely a little worse. It neither grows nor shrinks. It doesn't go to the bin or leave play and it offers no shenanigans with the opposite kind of counters. It doesn't protect against sacrifice effects either. I do very much like the wording "remove a counter" meaning if you get multiple shields you get to keep some each time it triggers making my beloved proliferate mechanic have a new buddy. There is a little bit too much in the way of bounce and exile in cube for it to be a premium keyword but it is a nice little anti wrath ability, except for all those many -X/-X, exile, and bounce cards... I suspect a cheap white dork with a shield will be well suited to white aggressive decks in much the same way Adanto Vangaurd is popular. Duelist however is too gold and three mana to be competing with a card like Vanguard.

Falco Spara, Pactweaver 4

Great fun looking card but a little too narrow (both on colours and effect) for cube. Great commander potential here. You can abuse the hell out of this with a Devoted Druid. Cards of that nature will work wonders with this in general. Phyrexian Alter and any sort of persist and undying card do good work with this. Powerful build around card that stands up OK on its own. 

Ledger Shredder 3

If you want a looter you probably just play one of the more assured iterations that tap to loot or are unblockable and do so on combat damage. This is a Seacoast Drake when you are not triggering it and that is a bad card in all formats. You have to have a deck built to trigger this consistently to play it and at that point the card is decent being both a source of card quality and a relevant body on the board. That precondition to be a good card however makes it too narrow for cube.  

A Little Chat 7

Two mana instant speed Sleight of Hand is a fine enough starting place. Slap the ability to fork this for the low cost of a dork with at least one power and we might have a good card. If you can sac a soldier token, a card that has already done its work like a Fblthp/Blade Splicer, or if you can use it on something that just had a removal spell aimed at it then the value of A Little Chat is very good indeed. The place I am most likely to run this is a control list which has the lowest ability to use the casualty. Even in midrange decks I can't imagine I am getting to use the casualty any where close to half the time that I play this. Overall this card feels most like a Plumb the Forbidden with less ability to scale up but that is far more potent at and around the low end which is the way you want cards to be for cube. This is the kind of card that is ultimately filler. It is interesting and fun and perfectly suitable but the power level is not enough to actually make this a great card. It will see some play but I seriously doubt it is edging out one mana card quality like Sleight of Hand. With tempo such an issue in cube presently I have not seen much one use two mana card quality played in cube lately. Even the likes of Sylvan Library and Search for Azcanta get a lot less action than they used to. I want this card to be good but really that just makes me think my rating of this is a little biased in its favour. It is the kind of card that remains playable even if it doesn't quite reach the bar on power due to being a cheap cantrip and so my bias for this could well see it lasting longer than it ought. 

Ziatora, the Incinerator 2

Pretty powerful and with some ability to scale but ultimately I never want a six drop that needs something else to be good, especially not a three colour one. I would take the humble Broodmate Dragon over this in cube...

Jaxis, the Troublemaker 6.5

What a messy card. We can at least discard some of that mess as casting this as a four drop is utter garbage and rarely what will be done. Assuming therefor that we are putting this in our deck to use it for the blitz mode what do we get? Still two options, a simple one off attack for two damage that cantrips which is just filler really but at least a playable mode that acts a bit like cycling and ultimately adds quite a lot to the viability of the card, even if it isn't adding much to the raw power. Or, for three mana and a discarded card we get a one turn copy and attack of another dork we control and two cards back. Both modes are card neutral and both give a one turn combat based effect. The latter costlier mode heavily depends on what you have to copy. If it is a powerful dork with a strong EtB effect then it is very powerful, if not then not so much. Much as this is a bit of a mess, not all that powerful on average, and ranging from situational to filler, I still quite like it. It gives you cool options, I like a bit of a rummage! I like the capacity to scale. I like that blitz lets you get the draw even if it is not from the EoT sac trigger so you can milk them for value in concert with things like Yawgmoth or Goblin Bombardment. Jaxis is one of those cards that probably holds up well enough in cube thanks to the versatility but it probably isn't going to be played quite enough to really own a slot. Oddly this card feels to me like a Hellspark Elemental once you get past all the frills.   

Devilish Valet 3

This gets out of hand quite fast but it is a build around only card as you need two dorks per turn entering on average for the baseline to be acceptable. That or at least a buff and one doubling which is still two instances of support. I can imagine silly decks using Kobalds and free pump spells to one shot people with this. Even with just a token based deck this hits pretty hard. A Hordeling Outburst alone makes this and 8/3 trampler! I cannot however imagine simply playing this without intent to abuse. Even a token themed deck probably isn't getting enough out of this to bother considering it. 

Wiretapping 2

Cute but all a bit slow and clunky as a means of card draw in cube. Big powerful enchantments can get a home in enchantress decks but the one thing those decks really don't lack is means to draw more cards. As such I think it is unlikely this will see any play outside of EDH and perhaps standard. Hideaway is the best friend of the Eldrazi but this is sufficiently slow to trigger and hard to set up that for any hideaway abuse plan this is going to be far enough down the line that it will not be getting used for that outside of EDH.

Halo Fountain 3

This is very cool indeed and seems to work incredibly well with things like Cryptolith Rite and Earthcraft. I look forward to building a deck around such things even if it is likely more of a gimmick than a top tier thing. As with most of the fun cards, this seems destined for EDH and little else. Much as power is the deciding factor in most places fun is really the holy grail in design terms. Those cards that jump out at you and make you want to design around them and play with them and Halo Fountain is exactly that card to me. A rating of 3 might be reasonable for my cube uses but it doesn't pay nearly enough credit to the quality of the design here. To me this is what Magic is all about and so I am happy to see such things. 

Gala Greets 6.5

This is hard to ignore. It does a whole lot of quite powerful things. It isn't properly abusable but if you can reliably get at least one trigger a turn with it the card is solid and as you get closer to two triggers it gets decidedly naughty. Luckily it works with tokens (and thus most planeswalkers) else it would be too narrow. Green has better beaters, much better ramp, and much better sources of life gain than this. I am not sure how much green wants any of these effects by themselves however the options are just so appealing I am inclined to think this has a reasonable shot. Cheap, stand alone tempo utility is a hard thing to come by in any colour. 

Elspeth Resplendent 7

A fairly boring and low value +1 but none the less a high threat and high utility one. It will be able to win the game in any sort of stall. The -7 can speed up a win  rather substantially and is not all that far away given a starting loyalty of 5. The -3 is the most interesting part of Elspeth. Seven cards is very deep. Shield counters are pretty useful. Three drops can be pretty powerful and at the very least you can still dig up lands. The quality of the -3 does depend on the build of your deck however it is often getting you a two for one at pretty low tempo cost. You get a powerful planeswalker on two loyalty and you get a permanent into play with protection. A Celestial Colonnade with a shield counter on it sounds utterly terrifying! A shielded random dork sounds like hard work attacking past. My main concern for Elspeth is that she is not always well suited. There are few slots available for five drops in aggressive lists and plenty of good options. In a control deck however the +1 loses a chunk of value and the -3 likely has rather fewer hits which in turn likely have a lower average tempo gain. There is certainly power here and white is rather lacking a good five mana walker but I fear play for this card will be on the light side even if performance is up to scratch. 

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