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.

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