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! 


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