Wednesday 7 September 2022

Preliminary Review: Dominaria United Part IX

Elas, il-Kor Sadistic Pilgrim 7

Part Suture Priest, part Meathook Massacre. Certainly nice to have another Blood Artist and the commander players are likely pretty happy about it being a two drop, two coloured legend. This is a little narrow for my liking although the power level is high so need to test. Sac decks are a top tier archetype in my cube but white is a support colour for them and likely only the 3rd best of those, being better only than blue. 

Vohar, Vodalian Desecrator 7

This dude takes such a dump on Merfolk Looter it is a bit embarrassing. Especially as looter is reasonably playable. This competes more with Jace, Vryn's Prodigy than anything else and in that comparison it is really only being gold that keeps this one firmly in second place. Life gain, power, unlimited looting, and recursion at will are all perks this has over Jace. I do not love a gold two drop but this seems to have a bit too much going on to not at least give it a chance. Power wise this seems fairly nutty and that alone should get it more than enough play and results to get a cube slot. 

Meria, Schiolar of Antiquity 2

Cool and powerful effects but somewhat in the wrong colours. Jaheira is a much easier to abuse effect in terms of getting things to tap for mana. The same is likely true of Cryptolith Rite style cards as well. Obviously Urza too although a less useful comparison being entirely different colours. Mana generation and draw in the same card is always an eye opener. I just want to build a commander deck that is this and nothing but 0 and 1 mana artifacts! Beyond that I don't see myself having a use for this with it being a bit narrow and a bit out of place. 

Baird, Argivian Recruiter 5

Very easy to turn on at which point this is a powerful card with good general suitability. Somewhat harder to turn on early in the game however and so while throughout the game this may well make more tokens on average than Precinct Captain it does so at the wrong time for what you want from a two drop. It is also gold and does require some attention to what works best with it. As such it is not going to make it in the cube and more reliable and more suitable token producers will be used instead. 

Tear Asunder 7.5

This is a top notch removal spell. The base mode already outclasses Naturalize and the kicked mode is Utter End. Green decks can easily find other colours of mana and so I can see this winding up in a lot of otherwise non-black lists. Another one of these Lingering Souls like cards that can be played to some degree with just one colour and so gets frequently splashed in a very gentle and non committal way. Green is however not short of Naturalize effects and most of them come on the back of dorks which tend to be more on theme with green cards. I do not see this getting much, if any play without some access to black. It isn't a busted card, just a versatile one. Power wise it is fair in both modes and so there is not quite the same incentive to play it as there is for Lingering Souls. That being said, when you can play either mode without issue you will basically always play this. 

Vodalian Hexcatcher 4

An outstanding lord much like the various other two mana lords we have had this set. Flash is great, as is the Curse Catcherification of your other fish. Merfolk are a funny tribe in that they have always had good lords, it is the other stuff they lack. Removal or things that do a good impression of it are coming along for blue but one drops I want to play and token generation are not and so this lord is not as impressive in the context of what fish decks need most. Even so, I will be playing this in all the fish decks and it will still be great. 

Thran Portal 4

This is a messy mashup of like four other types of land. The life cost is Mana Confluence esque, the tap/untapped is a quickland mechanic. Then you have a Pathway like lock in choice of colour production complete with a basic land and the gate type! In that regard a little bit Fabled Passage/Prismatic Vista. So when is this something I want? You need to want fixing but likely not too many different colours, so a two colour deck probably. You need to want quick mana and not care about life loss, so probably an aggressive deck. And even after all that Thran Portal is still barely in the top 10 list of lands. Playable but not something you are putting in many cubes even though it is space efficient as a source of fixing. With all that in mind, I am likely only playing this in a deck after the types specifically, more than likely a gates deck. This does quite a lot but not very powerfully. 

Braid's Frightful Return 2

This is a whole load of messing around for probably some kind of Divination. If you manage to sac something of low value yourself you might effectively make it a three for one! Worst case this card is a three mana conditional cycle. There isn't raw power here and so I am not going to waste my time with a slow card full of ifs and maybes. Yes, this can be pretty decent in the right deck but if you can build with impunity like that then there will be more obscure and better scaling cards you can include instead of this in your list. 

Leaf-Crowned Visionary 5

My personal favourite of the lords as elf decks love to draw cards. I'll play this in combo for the cards and I'll play in in aggro for the beats. Elves has a lot of playables so there is a chance this isn't an auto include but it is still very very good. Nicely on theme for elves while also being cheap and powerful. 

Balmor, Battlemage Captain 5

Powerful card indeed but I fear not so well suited to Izzet which is a colour rarely going wide. Yes, this plays quite well with Young Pyromancer but assuming your 2/1 is surviving to be synergized with would be the folly. I like this more than Stormchaser Mage but a lot lot less than Sprite Dragon. The best thing I see Balmor doing is giving trample to a Kiln Fiend! Only slightly less wishful than the Pyromancer synergy! This could well have the raw power to get over the lack of perfect synergy but my gut says this is not out performing Stormchaser on average nor is it seeing more play meaning it shouldn't be included. 

Rith, Liberated Primeval 7

I have wanted a reason for people to play Naya for ages and this is one of the closest I have seen. Big ward flyers are amazing. Ward 2 isn't much protection but it does at least stop you getting blown out. It is the end step trigger than turns this from a big dumb dork into quite the interesting proposition. Doing excess damage in combat is pretty common and not that hard to setup. If you can get a warded 5 mana super Broodmate Dragon out of Rith and threaten more tokens then the card is nuts. Like a super Scarab God that doesn't require you to spend more mana. You will not always be able to get the tokens keeping this somewhat fair. Both the power and the suitability are there for Rith, all that is really lacking is the archetypal support and in cube these days it is really just balanced piles of the best cards and so cards like Rith can essentially be their own archehtypal support. I also like the potential mindgames he has. I might be representing playing Rith and then attack in such a way that forces you to block poorly so as to avoid giving me a 4/4 token. Cool card that I want to work out but in practice easily could just be a bit of a dork that is a bit too gold. 

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