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! 

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