Wednesday 31 August 2022

Preliminary Review: Dominaria United Part V


Llanowar Greenwidow 7

A nice size and set of stats. Green does love a meaty three drop to ramp into and it also still struggles against fliers. That is all nice but Greenwidow is vanilla and a long way off cube worthy without the domain ability. For as little as three mana we can get this guy back from the bin. A very flashback looking effect reminding me of Call of the Herd with a whole lot more punch. Not only can this cost as little as three to get back it is instant speed and uncounterable. It does come in tapped stopping it being a really tedious flash blocker, the kind of tweak that smacks of a card being too good in testing! Even so, I am very happy with this all round bargain of a card. I am happy enough to pay five for this the second time round and that is going to be very easy indeed as a green mage in a world of Triomes. This is no bomb, it is just a nice solid dork that helps you be proactive while fighting both tempo and value. It feels like a Briarbridge Tracker, Old-Growth Troll, or a Kazundu Mammoth. Meaty but with some kind of value. Not so all in and linear as the pure beaters but plenty punchy enough to do that job as well. Cards you are happy playing in midrange and aggressive decks.

 Keldon Flamesage 2

Cool value generator but no immediate impact kills this for me. It is too vulnerable and unlikely to produce value. Deploying it is tempo negative and that is a bad starting place. Cute with the old cascade spells but so what? Powerful card but ill suited. 

Protect the Negotiations 3

Cute card and fairly well suited to cube where the average dork count is quite high. Sadly blue is the least likely colour to have (m)any dorks in play so you cannot play this without access to white else this will risk being dead. You can't go round playing dead spells! This scales reasonably well but is likely never over the bar. I am always going to want Mana Leak over this, Lose Focus and Miscalculation probably too. 

Plaza of Heroes 1

Commander card. 

Karn, Living Legacy 2

The +1 is fun but it is slow and narrow. The -1 is expensive, and also slow, and also fails to protect Karn or provide any tempo. The -7 is great but so what, you have to spend three turns doing very little to get there. In a deck that can really work the powerstones this is fine but probably still not making the cut when there are things like Metalworker out there. This Karn manages to be narrow and fairly low power. Just as well really, all Karn planeswalkers up till now have been on the good side. I also still quite like it despite how weak it looks and that has to be a design triumph when you can make bad cards appeal. 

Rona's Vortex 8

There has been a very long wait for a card that is better than Unsummon. I thought Vapour Snag was it but it wasn't in any relevant way, then Fading Hope finally managed to do it only to be dazzled by this new offering so soon. This is one of those two things better, one thing worse style of design we are seeing more of lately. You can't bounce your own stuff so we can't call it strictly better than Unsummon however we can target planeswalkers and we can kick it with black for four and have it be perfectly reasonable removal. That makes me so much more likely to play this, even in a mono blue deck. It is good enough to effectively count as a blue card, you will just toss in some fixing you might happen to have so as to have the potential option on the meatier version much like is often done with Lingering Souls in a white deck. As far as removal goes this is both ends, it is cheap and instant tempo disruption to keep things real early and then it is hard removal late so as to answer something properly and without losing card  value in the process. This is a simple spell but it is very good indeed. Tempo is such than I can actually see me now playing this and Fading Hope. Back in the day before tempo became so dominant there was no bounce in cube that cost you card advantage. 

Cult Conscript 7

Yup, another 2/1 recursive black one drop. I like this one as it can actually block. Would be better as a zombie but we will cope. This is rather a more the merrier kind of club so despite being weaker in some ways to the others this is making all of them better overall. That alongside black self mill, black sacrifice, and black aggro. 

Phoenix Chick 7

The super Raging Goblin! Who blocks with red dorks anyway? This is cheap, hasting, evasive, and recursive. Really the only thing this has against it is that it is relatively small and low impact. Three or more attacking dorks is not trivial but it does happen and most often in the kinds of deck that will want this Chick. The more looting and milling things you have the better this gets as well. This is fine low end option rich aggro support for conventional decks and it will also crop up in some Hollow One and Vengevine graveyard style decks as well. Cool little card that hits nicely on power level and playability.

Defiler of Faith 1

Never overlook cost reduction effects. This however is unimpressive to say the least. I am sure there are abusive things you can do with this but realistically they will only be viable in commander. Without abuses this is a long way from the kind of five drop you want in cube.

Inscribed Tablet 6

Lovely little consistency tool. This is an un-wiffable colourless land dig spell. Very good for Tron type things and more relevantly for cube also potentially good in Urza's Saga lists. Do I want this in coloured decks ever? Perhaps there are some gold decks even split enough that I run this over a green card that finds land or fixes? Doesn't much feel like it. Perhaps I want specific lands enough in some non-green decks that I run this there, say a black Cabal Coffers/Urborg control list or a red white Flagstones and indestructible land abuse list? Tablet is low power but none the less very playable. A slightly cheaper slightly less assured Wayfinders Bauble. It is likely a bit low tempo and a bit filler for me to play it very much cube drafts but I can see building with it.     

Founding the Thirds Path 6

This is a lot of card with a lot of options. Phase 1 lets you be mana neutral. Phase 3 lets you be card neutral. Phase 2 has utility all over the shop. Anything that ultimately costs nothing has a strong tendency to be powerful. While I do think this will see plenty of play in constructed formats I cannot see it doing all that well in limited cube. Phase 1 is not that commonly going to usefully save you mana and phase 3 is not always going to have useful targets. Much of this is down to the sorcery speed nature of playing this and ticking up a saga. You just cannot usefully use counter magic with this or get any of the trickery you get with normal instants. To me this makes it a lot lot worse than Snapcaster Mage and probably even Mission Briefing as well. I do like that you can save all ur mana up for the third phase by delaying, essentially allowing a full mana flashback on a big card. I like a lot about this but it is simply too dependant on having things to use with it and that makes it too narrow. I want to play it in prowess decks and with the likes of Expressive Iteration but for limited that feels like over indulgence.

Monday 29 August 2022

Preliminary Review: Dominaria United Part IV


Micromancer 3

Very close to the mark given quite how potent tutors are in singleton and how good one mana spells are in eternal formats! Sadly this is one of those value dorks you want at three mana but sits at the four mark where you want impact more than this can offer. Spellseeker shouldn't be worried by this newcomer. 

Astor, Bearer of Blades 2

Sure, this is fun in those build around decks. Might have been relevant outside of commander if it were cheaper to deploy. 

Defiler of Vigor 4

I read this and all I could think about was Uktabi Drakes! Perhaps a Glimpse of Nature and some Essence Warden. That sounds like all of the fun! Might legitimately find a copy in legacy elves, of Defiler of Vigor, not the Drakes or Wardens... As for cube I think this is a bit too much work. I feel like I am just getting more out of an Elder Gargaroth. And savagely both are just asking to get corned by any half respectable removal effect on the market. Yes, technically with Defiler of Vigor you can drop it down and blow your load to pump up your team but how much impact is that having? How much stuff can you deploy or do you have in play? Where did all these nice-to-imagine cards come from? How likely are you to fold to any sort of anything from a Fog to a Wrath? Defiler is very fun and interesting looking but he is not a good fit for the brutality that is modern day cubing. 

Najal, the Storm Runner 1

Oh look, exact same issue Vigor has, but this time also gold and with 2 less toughness to get through. 

Tolarian Geyser 2

Sorcery speed Repulse with a tasty little option on life gain. Repulse is a very rounded and playable little card. This is similar but the occasional life is not coming close to making up for sorcery speed. That kills so much of the utility and trickery and option density. There is no way cubes are hungry enough for Repulse effects that this comes into the discussion. I like Repeal more than this and that is not an easy card to gain tempo with!

Tolarian Terror 3

A better Cryptic Serpent, which didn't see play in 40 card versions of the deck. This might but probably not, you tend to be better off with the delve spells when you support this kind of thing and so these more fringe payoff cards that need things to stay in the bin don't appeal too much. 

Vineshaper Prodigy 1

Either too weak or too expensive. If only this were the Anticipate with a 2/2 body as the kicker... well, I guess it would be better but it still probably wouldn't quite make my cube. 

Writhing Necromass 3

A different take on the likes of Gurmag Angler. Harder to setup but doesn't consume resources when you have. I can see this padding out a creature heavy self mill deck. The kind where the things helping reduce its cost are Anger and Wonder! Even Brawn does a lot of work with this big boy thanks to the deathtouch. 

Cut Down 6

This hits about 75% of the dorks in my cube which is very good going for an instant speed one drop. That compares well to Fatal Push and Blood Chiefs Thirst at base level which both only hit about 50% of dorks. Cut down however does not have the ability to scale up in target range as those two do. Cut Down also has issues in the face of pump and buffs. An awful lot of dorks get bigger by themselves or are found in decks with lots of things that make them bigger. Having your Cut Down not work because something grew out of range is going to be gutting but getting your Cut Down fizzled by something sneakily growing is going to spell disaster. In a world where tempo is so extreme the cost of removal is paramount this is a solid spell I can see running over Disfigure. As it stands black is presently OK for one mana answers.  

Golden Argosy 6

This is a very cool ongoing flicker effect. Although I am not sold on the power level of this card the flicker archetype is really taking hold with the various new EtB draw and removal dorks white has gained recently. As such I cannot see this failing to get play in cube. There just isn't as much playable flicker enablers as you want and this fits the bill. It is fairly robust, offers ongoing flicker for no additional mana cost, and actually does something beyond just flickering unlike Teleportation Circle and arguably Thassa! Needing to attack might cut into the reliability of this card but a 3/6 is pretty hefty and safe in combat.

Shana, Purifying Blade 2

Decent fun card in a lifegain deck but if you are relying on the lifelink from this card to trigger it don't bother. The returns will be far too infrequent to make this good.

Threats Undetected 2

My inclination is that this is poo, almost certianly for cube but probably constructed as well. As a draw spell it doesn't get you lands so doesn't capitalize on being cheap. It also gets you the worst half of four cards. If there are combos this can setup then great, it might get some action. In singleton that is going to be near impossible and constructed isn't going to be all that much harder. Lets say you have a two card combo with dorks, you need sensible redundancy with three different cards that are all playable and that have different powers. Sounds pretty unlikely, Meliria and Vizier both have two power and likely ruin that party as easily as that. You can get three Blood Artists with different powers or three dorks that are sac outlets with different powers. The third strongest of each of those however is pretty poor not much helping the argument for this as a tutor. So yeah, this is a bad divination and a really unlikely Tutor effect. 

Yavimaya Steelscrusher 2

The kind of card I love but this is outclassed these days by dorks or spells like Abrade and You Find Some Prisoners, all of which pack more utility and power than this. I like that this is versatile, reasonably scaling, all while being quite a proactive threat. I do not like that it is often just a Grizzly Bears. 

Friday 26 August 2022

Preliminary Review: Dominaria United Part III


The Phasing of Zhalfir 4

Read ahead is a lovely twist on the saga mechanic and interestingly implemented here. A Curse of the Swine in Wrath of God form with the ability to stall on the Wrath for one or two turns is interesting already. The ability to also phase a couple of things out till after the Wrath is also interesting. You can protect your own stuff or you can be more selective about what you turn into 2/2s for your opponent, or you can simply turn off a planeswalker or other annoying thing in play. Much as this card has loads of interesting choices going on I am not sure it is going to get much love. When you need a Wrath you rarely want to be facing off against a bunch of 2/2 dorks there after. Curse of the Swine was poor removal and I expect this to be much the same. I plan to test it as it is interesting and blue is not a colour one typically finds mass removal in but I have little hope for this to make it through testing. 

Guardian of New Benalia 7

While Seasoned Hallowblade is worse than Adanto Vanguard it was still a fine card that did the job at hand suitably well. Guardian of New Benalia is quite the upgrade on Hallowblade and so I imagine that it will last in cube even if it doesn't manage to outmatch Vanguard. People seem to be underrated enlist, the mechanic is powerful in a creature combat driven format like limited, from booster all the way to cube. Enlist allows your precious utility dorks, or at least those without tap effects you want online, to be significantly more relevant contributors to tempo. I see Guardian frequently swinging in as a 7/3 or bigger. What are you going to do about that? Chump every turn while they scry and get in with other dorks? How about sticking 3 power in front of it each turn and forcing a discard? Doesn't sound promising either unless you have a lot of potent walkers in play. Guardian does it's main job of being a resilient cheap beater pretty well but it also takes it upon itself to do several other jobs pretty well too. That of card quality and helping all your dorks contribute to the fight. This is fairly powerful and pretty well suited to white aggro decks but it is just a dork and they are two a penny. When you are on the linear side of things and really only have one archetypal home you have to go above and beyond to make it into cube and that may be a stumbling point for this. High option density is where this has the most chance to shine.

Nishoba Brawler 6

A two mana 5/3 trample? Sign me up. With all ten Triomes kicking around this is easy to ceiling with and should consistently be above curve. Straight up better than a Tarmogoyf in cube, trample is just big game. Certainly way punchier than Goyf in modern too. Better than Goyf however doesn't secure a cube spot, not often is the green player in the market for a vanilla beater these days. Very punchy powerful card perhaps the victim of no current archetype driven demand.

Ajani, Sleeper Agent 4

Surprisingly unimpressive card. The ultimate is scary but the other abilities do not impress. A +1 that gives you a draw 40% of the time at best and a mere scry the rest of the time is low value, unreliable, and fails to protect Ajani. The -3 is quite meaty but it is situational, disruptable, only usable immediately in the four mana mode. It certainly isn't an exciting ability, even if you are doing silly scaling things. Selesnya has the worst of the two colour planeswalkers by a massive margin with basically none good enough for cube. I had high hopes when first sighting this but reading it shortly there after dashed them. It isn't terrible, it has flexible casting modes, ongoing value, some threat, and some ability to affect the board. It can very well win some games. A rap sheet like this would have meant Ajani was an auto include when planeswalkers first hit the scene. In this day and age it is the bare minimum for consideration and Ajani does not clear the hurdle by enough.

Radha's Firebrand 3

This is somewhere between Earthshaker Khenra and Kargan Intimidator and winds up a little less impressive than either. Firebrand might be powerful but it is vulnerable and linear. Yes, she can apply some good pressure on curve but so can a lot of cards that do not look so pathetic late game or in the face of certain answers. 

Braids, Arisen Nightmare 4

Not really at all like other Braids as this is not a lock tool. This is just a slow grindy sac outlet. It turns stuff you don't want into cards and life swing or removal as your opponent sees fit. Braids is all a bit situational and not all that powerful or well suited to her archetypes. Her power level is at least fine and she is relatively cheap. 

The World Spell 2

A twist on Tooth and Nail. This is slower but also cheaper. I am sure there will be plenty of decks ramping to seven to flop out two big cards that work together to win the game. This is cute design but it isn't much good for cube. For normal decks your big cards want to be threats themselves. For combo decks this costs 7 mana... Are we using Show and Tell to get this out? 

Impede Momentum 0

This is one of those cards that makes me think I am underrating stun. I don't think I would play this in cube if it cost a single blue and was instant. That is quite the upgrade and so while this card isn't very good, perhaps stun is.

Herd Migration 6

This is interesting and has two types of use. It some ways it can play like a Magma Opus and put itself in the bin for value so as to then be cast from the bin, ideally in a mana cheated way. In another way however it seems pretty playable in a general way. Instant speed Lay of the Land with three life and uncounterable slapped on is one of those playable consistency buffer cards. Just nice fine filler. Then seven mana for to upto 15/15 of stats onto the board across five potential bodies is really serious. Yes it is both late and quite the multicoloured thing to do but this is exactly the sort of thing big rampy green gold decks want. This is setup or payoff. It is likely a bit fair and narrow but it has some real game. 

Sphinx of Clear Skies 6.5

Potent card indeed as we have seen with other big flying ward dorks. This is not as good as Iymrith but it probably doesn't need to be. Just doing that sort of role in that same sort of ballpark power level is going to get lots of work done. Is this better than Cavalier of Gales? Does blue want enough of this effect to get in alongside Iymrith? The kind of questions testing answers.

Nemata, Primeval Guardian 3

This is incredibly Kalitas looking and is likely a bit worse. Smaller dorks made and being gold are turn offs. The activated abilities are good but they are certainly not better than what Kalitas is packing. If this were just green I would be interested but in gold I am walking on by. The wrong kinds of power here, despite there being plenty of it. 

Resolute Reinforcements 6.5

Woop woop, a tiny but relevant upgrade to Raise the Alarm on average. This flickers for value, all be it very minor value. This is support and filler. The power level is low but the suitability is fairly high. You play it to give plenty of things to equip up and because of good scaling with team buffs, the flicker synergy is just incidental. I did recently trim Raise the Alarm and so this might not quite get there but I do hope it does. It certainly will not look at all out of place while I try and find out!

Monday 22 August 2022

Preliminary Review: Dominaria United Part II


Squee, Dubious Monarch 5

This smacks of Rabblemaster and Legion Warboss and at first glance one could be forgiven for thinking Squee was the most impressive of the lot what with having haste himself and with a nice form of escape as well. Upon closer inspection however I suspect Squee will wind up being rather worse. The issue with Squee is that he needs to attack. If he doesn't attack then no token and no token means no ongoing value, no scaling, and thus no real threat. Squee being a 2/2 with no evasion makes him a pretty poor attacker and you rarely want to chump attack with him. You probably get 2 tokens with Squee at best, one the turn you make him and then another the turn he attacks in to his death. Odds on those tokens do not do all that much work either. It is pretty easy to mop up some straggling 1/1 tokens forced into combat. Squee does tax blockers and should be able to force through damage in go wide decks. He should also steal games in which he is able to go wild, unchallenged by either a blocker or removal. The ceiling for Squee is fine if somewhat rare. The average is OK at best. I much prefer being able to sit back with my small three drop and churn out tokens from the safety of being out of combat. I want to love Squee, he does all the cool things I like my cards to do, he just doesn't do the main thing you need him to do well enough. 

Sol'Kanar, the Tainted 1

Nice throwback card and very fun looking. Sadly too gold and too risky. You should be able to win with this before you have to give it away, or at least force an answer. The latter is usually OK if you manage to get at least one EoT trigger. The former is obviously great. Sadly, if you pay 5 mana and a card and then help out the opponent as much or more than yourself that is usually game over. You can't really play this into many cards and situations where the game or Sol'Kampbell himself can be stalled and that is never what you want from your top end threats. Despite lots of power and utility that single and uncommon issue renders this effectively unplayable. 

Zur, Eternal Schemer 2

Fun build around card. Too narrow for most cubes and despite reasonable power it is fairly hard to abuse this leaving it unlikely to get much action in the 40 card library environments. 

Soul of Windgrace 3

This offers value and utility without compromise on being meaty. While this looks like it has no downside it feels like it isn't going to compete for cube space. Three colours is a big ask for something as generic as this. The activated abilities are all somewhat control effects, as is the land value aspect. They need you to have mana spare, lands spare, and lands in the bin. Without those things this is just a glorified Fire Elemental! Certainly this has the requisite power for cube play but it doesn't really fit in all that well. There are plenty of much better threats and the same is true for cards that offer utility, or value, or even those that mess around with lands such as Living Twister or the humble Ramunap Excavator. 

Raff, Weatherlight Stalwart 1

So I need spare dorks to tap and instant/sorcery cards to trigger this? Feels like Raff is a glorified Lumengrid Warden... Five mana to pump my team will come up but it is pricy and situational. This only feels like it works out well in a deck rammed with things like Raise the Alarm. If I am making little dorks I would much rather play mass pump cards and then attack than I would like to tap my things to draw cards. Not unplayable but rather at odds with itself. 

The Raven Man 5

I like this a lot but it needs a little bit too much support to break into cube. Four mana to discard is too expensive, even if you do get a 1/1 token for your troubles. As such you need lots of cards in your deck that allow/force you and your opponent to be discarding. As such The Raven Man will be confined to more constructed settings where he can enjoy plentiful support in builds like Tinybones, 8rack, and that kind of thing. 

Jhoira, Ageless Innovator 2

A slow but powerful mana source that is cleverly worded such that it cannot be too abusive. Although it taps for two then four then six etc you cannot add that mana to other mana so as to help ramp out something big, nor can you use it to activate things. You need a two drop artifact, a four drop artifact and so on to get the maximum returns from this and that makes it supremely narrow. Great potential commander but outside of build arounds there are not many decks that can support Jhoira.

Benalish Sleeper 1

A gold take on Fleshbag Marauder that can just be a dork should you prefer. I have never found these kinds of cards, or indeed Edict effects in general, to be all that in cube. They are simply unreliable removal and far too often just take out tokens. This is a fine card but I cannot imagine using it anywhere other than a pauper cube and even there it is likely filler. 

Defiler of Dreams 3

Powerful and exciting effect but slapped onto a fairly expensive and vulnerable body. This is too much work building around and not really supported well enough in cubes. Blue does not major in permanents. I do very much like the idea of powering out loads of cheap blue things and cycling through my deck but the kinds of deck than can do that are going to fall apart easily and get crushed by most things. A very cool, fun, and potentially powerful card that is going to be hard to build with and not work as desired more often than not. 

Sheoldred, the Apocalypse 6

Well this is quite the spicy one. By itself it is a bit of a dumb dork offering no immediate value or returns. If it sits in play long enough it will likely win the game through the life attrition but should it catch a removal spell early on the card is pretty much just an Ernham Djinn and it has been over two decades since that was a playable card. It has to sit in play for a turn or two before it cometes with Siege Rhino in most situations and that card is looking a little tired now too. Obviously the thing I most want to do with this is not playing it in fair decks but instead play it with Yawgmoth's Bargain! There is also a lot of merit in any of the symmetrical draw seven effects used with this as well. As far as cube draft goes I think this is winding up looking a lot like Kalitas. A clunky four drop that wins games pretty hard when removal cannot be found and that concedes advantages when it can. This leads to a somewhat polar card that probably doesn't play all that well. Certainly this has a solid power level, both when supported and when just thrown into a deck. It isn't a bomb however and if a card is just fine and doesn't play all that well I am disinclined to add it to the cube. One to test for sure but not expecting much from this one. Very cool though. 

Archangel of Wrath 3

Brutal limited card but a little gold and low impact for cube. A five mana 3/4 flyer that shocks something is well below the curve even with some life thrown in. The six mana mode will do a lot more to control and stabilize the board but I should hope so from a three mana gold card. I can nearly play Ruinous Ultimatum at that point... The base line of being a 3/4 flying lifelink isn't enough either, it is an OK floor but you are never playing it without the ability to kick it and only casting it without kicker when the situation is on the desperate side. I'll take Angel of Sanctions, Solitude, Fury, and even plain old Ravenous Chupacabra over this. They are just for more reliable or powerful removal tools. You just can't go around costing five or more mana while being unreliable at doing the thing you are being played to do. This is one of those high powered cards with low suitability but the low suitability is fairly well disguised making this appear better than it is. Especially when considering this will be a total bomb in booster draft! 


Friday 19 August 2022

Preliminary Review: Dominaria United Part I


Tor Wauki the Younger 1

Powerful in a build around and likely still fine in most red heavy decks. Likely too risky to be a good choice these days however, especially when you could just work a bit harder and play Fiery Emancipation for one more mana and one less colour. Sure, in the right deck untapping with this would be very powerful. Sadly getting your 3 toughness five drop Bolted/Hammered to death is going to more common, and more deadly in the wrong direction. 

Jasmine Boreal of the Seven 2

Fun card but not enough other support to be worth a build around as yet and a long way off good enough as a stand alone. One to keep an eye as more support is provided for this theme. 

Ramirez DePietro, Pillager 4

I like this a lot but fear it is a bit gold, clunky, and vanilla to get actual cube play. Sure, in a pirates deck this is rather better and something I would look to play. I do love the idea of a 4/3 that gives me two treasure allowing me to hold up counter magic or ramp the following turn. The net cost of two mana for my 4/3 with upside sounds great. This is one of those cards that should play fine in cube and yet it is still edged out by too many other bombs rather than lack of power itself. 

Llanowar Loamspeaker 7

This is certainly pretty good but as a two drop mana dork it needs to be great. Really we are looking at this needing to be comparable or better than Paradise Druid and/or Devoted and that is a pretty high bar. When Lotus Cobra, Sylvan Caryatid, and Wall of Roots are all falling short (one toughness on a two drop with no added value is a big risk these days and walls simply fail to add enough value when it comes to creature buffs). Loamspeaker has a healthy toughness, the means to attack itself, and even some power to go with that even if it is just the one! It offers premium fixing and rounds that out with a threat mode. The threat mode is surprisingly good as well. It may only animate a 3/3 but it is one you can chump attack with a bit longer than usual as you likely have multiple lands. It is active as well so while you might plan to use Loamspeaker for ramp your opponent will have to play around you beating down with it resulting in a much harder time deploying walkers. Loamspeaker is OK ramp but it comes with great all round utility and so on balance I think it will last. I even think it will outperform Paradise Druid. Yes, this is less likely to ramp you to 4 mana on turn three than Paradise Druid but it is rather more likely to do more for you beyond that point, be it attacking with big lands, blocking as a 1/3 or just tapping for mana for multiple turns before rolling over dead. Not a bomb but an option rich and well rounded card doing a desired job pretty well. All adding up to be a good cube card. 

Evolved Sleeper 7

Good card but certainly a slow one. The potency of this card is neither in value or in tempo directly. The strength of this card comes in the option density it has. You play it at any time and can invest in it as required. It is also great at ensuring you spend your mana fully with cheap early costs to mop up some leftovers and then a big repeatable late game value generating mana sink. This is never good value for mana but the ability to stagger the mana over several turns in little increments means it can represent good tempo, both by being relatively threatening for that stage in the curve or simply by not having cost you mana that could have otherwise been usefully spent. A BB 2/2, a 1BBB 3/3 deathtouch, or a 2BBBBB 4/4 cantrip deathtouch are all poor returns for mana but then so is a Figure of Destiny at every single mode and it remains a fine aggro card. Evolved Sleeper will not only perform well in aggro but due to the card draw and deathtouch elements it will perform rather nicely in midrange decks too. A fair card but one I am very glad to see. It is the right sort of one drop for black given what black decks seem to be about in my cube. Black has lacked for option rich rounded and playable one drops. IT has recursive 2/1s that suck at blocking for days but they lack broad appeal.

Temporal Firestorm 5

Half of Burn Down the House replacing the Devil mode with Azorius colour kicker to protect your own stuff. While I love a one sided Wrath this becomes a gold 7+ mana card to do so, you might as well play that Mardu Ultimatum (Ruinous?) at that point! I am being overly dramatic, this card is perfectly playable and will do fine in cubes but there are better options and space is tight.

Shivan Devastator 7

I don't like the look of this one but the fact that such a boring card is mythic is a tip off from those that have done some testing of these cards already that it is powerful. Perhaps this is an EDH card and has been giving the mythic treatment just to sell more packs but I wouldn't be at all surprised if this was just a good card. Most of the modes give you a reasonable card. It has immediate impact with haste and ongoing relevance with flying. It is a great thing to have in hand as a means of controlling planewalkers and just quite a nice top end threat to have. It reminds me somewhat of Voracious Hydra but instead of creature kill it is face and walker kill! While not a bomb this is better than it looks. Probably rather more interesting than it looks as well. Not when eating Fatal Push however, then it is a sad dragon. 

Jaya, Fiery Negotiator 8

I love making a prowess monk. Great new token type to have for red and here it scales nicely with the -1 ability. The -2 is interesting as it is potentially powerful removal but only if you are on the offensive which feels like it will make the card a little more polar. You can help scale it up with the monks but that is painfully slow. Jaya does still have three great modes and they are all technically useable immediately, at least as far as loyalty goes. You can develop the board with dorks, you can calm the board and apply pressure with removal, or you can dig into your deck and draw cards. Three of the main things you want to be able to do. Very Torch of Defiance feeling! The way the removal works does make this more of an aggressive card than Torch of Defiance but both are rounded enough and powerful enough to see play in most archetypes. Having three basic abilities is a frequent feature among the most powerful planeswalkers and the three Jaya has are all decent in their own right and cover a good range of different but useful things to do thus further increasing her overall power. There is an ultimate too that is fun but I cannot ever see getting used. The +1 will likely kill before you get to the loyalty needed to ult and it is going to be incredibly rare not to want/need to use either of the -1 or -2 abilities before getting to 8/9 loyalty or winning the game!