Thursday 17 November 2022

The Brother's War Preliminary Review Part X


0 - unplayable in 40 card singleton

1 - effectively unplayable

2 - has low tier constructed decks it might go in

3 - has mid tier constructed decks it does go in

4 - pretty powerful stuff with several potential homes, able to perform well in lower powered cubes

5 - powerful stuff that is either just too narrow or has too many superior alternatives

6 - fringe cube worthy

7 - cube worthy

8 - cube staple

9 - unpowered cube bomb

10 - powered cube bomb 

Static Net 2

Cute but this is removal with added fluff. You don't want fluff on your removal, you want function. This therefor falls short of Oblivion Ring which in turn means it falls well short of most cubes. 

Skystrike Officer 6

I like this a lot but there are some things I have concern for regarding this. Firstly, it is very 2015 in power level. It smacks of Hanwier Garrison which has been out of the cube for a long old time now. Secondly this card isn't very blue, it is not a colour that wants to go wide or pressure attacks particularly which is obviously what this card is all about. Even if it is potent enough it might just not have anywhere that wants it. The only aggressive blue shell at present is Izzet tempo and they have far better options on fliers and tools to generate tokens. This is not at all the kind of threat they are after. Lastly I am concerned in the classic way that this is just a card that does nothing if it dies before you untap with it. It is only three mana but still, you are falling behind if this gets answered before it makes a token. Is the upside this offers worth that risk? Perhaps. Tokens are nice, they give you board control and may even power up your constructs etc. Blue certainly likes an artifact! I don't imagine you will draw many cards with Skystrike Officer but you don't need to for him to be good. Two tokens made and the card is outstanding, one and it is fine. More than that probably means you are going to, or already have won! The more aggressive and/or artifact based cubes are the better this is going to look. I suspect in mine it doesn't wind up getting enough play. One of the more solid reasons I have seen thus far for making your tribal soldiers blue I guess...

Myrel, Shield of Argive 2

The floor of making 1 token on attack isn't enough, really just being a 4 drop that drops down do-nothing-dead to most removal is the death knell here. I'll play this in soldier decks for the insane high end payoff but I'll play Brimaz and cards like that if I want bodies and I'll play other two and three drop dorks if I want to restrict/disrupt my opponent.

Bladecoil Serpent 4

Grixis also gets one of this faux flexible big artifact creature cards. I like this one a little more but it still isn't there. A 6 mana 6/4 trample haste that draws me a card is fine but not only is that a reasonable floor, it is also not all that far off the ceiling and so we can move on. 

Cityscape Leveler 5

Good effects but a little costly to be hard cast and a lot less effective as something you cheat out. In a slow cube or in a really slow midrangy meta this has some hope. It is just very clean and direct, it is big and tramply and thus quite the threat, and it answers most problems, right away ensuring it does something. The unearth is a bonus bit of push, value, removal, and utility. Where Leveler falls down, beyond the massive price tag, is that it is fairly easily answered. Most colours have tools to deal with this very efficiently and they are played. A simple Kolaghan's Command can undo all of the work of Leveler and likely still remain mana up on the exchange after recasting the destroyed dork. This isn't high enough immediate impact or resilient enough to be something you bother cheating into play very often. This is a card you want to play fair with. In that setting it is decent, it is just unlikely many cubes will find themselves supporting that setting! Even Ugin the Spirit Dragon is looking a bit tired in my cube now. Even though the meta is slowing down the curve is still shrinking. Five is a where most decks are stopping these days. An although we all know that 8 is more than 5, when it comes to magic these numbers no longer share a simple linear relationship. The three that 8 is above 5 is significantly greater than the three than 5 is above 2. I am sure the good Mr Karsten has an article somewhere telling us by exactly how much!  

Powerstone Engineer 2

Not enough upfront to make this enticing. The baseline for a powerstone isn't great and even if it were you would then want some profitable ways to sac this off before it was looking interesting. I like this card but I struggle to make a case for it being good. 

Misery's Shadow 7

Nantuka Shade got quite the facelift with this offering. This is less colour intense to cast and pump with an extra toughness and a reasonably potent disruption effect. In cube that last part is really powerful. It turns off a lot of things and reduces the value of recursion tools an anything else that is powered up by the bin. It is this subtle ability that has me most interested in this card. The rest isn't even in line with power creep. Shade was grade back in the day but dorks were total shit then. This is more playable than shade but all it gained in direct power is the toughness. Nantuko Shade hasn't been in the cube for over a decade now and a single toughness wouldn't have changed the duration of  absence all that notably. While I do rate this card one of the most potent parts of it is really dependent on your opponents deck. Sometimes the ability will wreck them and other times it will not affect them. Sometimes it will even affect your stuff by turning off Blood Artist or what have you. This is a lot less powerful than it looks but it is still the right kind of power for cube. The broad options this brings as well as decent scaling and utility throughout the game are exactly what you want from your cheaper beaters. This offeres utility and threat and isn't lacking in power either, as such I expect this to last.   

Gurgling Anointer 1

Not something you really want anymore. Sure, some potential scaling up of threat with some potential value on death. Thing is, these are all ifs and buts and they are all down the line. Just play a card that is good now and always. 

Rootwire Amalgam 5

This card has me really stumped. The stats side of it isn't getting me going. You just don't want to be paying for vanilla stats even if you get modality on them. This just isn't a good rate or cube card at 2 or 5 mana. It is the ability that has me thrown. A 15/15 is big. And it can come out very fast. That could be coming at you on turn 4 and look all sorts of lethal. It seems like it makes this threatening, you need to kill it or play against it cautiously. You can even fold to it made as a 2/3 if they have some sneaky pump effect to dump on it. Cards that demand to be killed or force lines of play are generally good. That is the sort of thin you need to add onto a vanilla beater to make it appealing in cube. When it is a mana efficient modal vanilla beater it starts to sound good. Intuition says this is just a bad card but I still can't shake the fact that this sounds like it should be good. I am going to need to test this to properly rule it out. 

Bushwhack 8

Perfect fight utility for green. I love Lay of the land and while I don't love fight it is something green really needs and is the most flavour and colour appropriate way to afford them access to removal. I don't love fight because of how it plays (high risk, can be dead etc) but good design like this really help it to be playable. This will do a lot of work in cube and good work at that. It will stop mana and colour screws, it will make decks more reliable, and it will safely allow green to dispatch some problem critters it is otherwise just folding to. The Brothers War has showcased a good number of these "improve the quality of games" cards which is very positive to see. This is absolutely a better cube card than Traverse the Ulvenwald, which is itself perfectly playable. The issue with Traverse is that it spends a little bit too much time as just Lay of the Land (unless you put effort into building around it). That means you have to account for it in your build as effectively adding Lay of the Land while with Bushwhack you adding a much more true modal card and as such it will add wiggle room to your build.

I think this card is sufficiently good that it will give a boost to the power level of usefully statted dorks. Kappa-Tech Wrecker seems like a card that is going to benefit from more cheap fight in green. It can take out a lot of small dorks while being cheap enough to happen early, and importantly surviving to tell the tale. A card you can compare Bushwhack (favourably) to is Khalni Ambush / Territory. Lay of the Land is generally better than a tapped green source, both cost you a mana effectively but one fixes for any colour you might need and does those nice things like shuffling, thinning, and filling up the bin. You do need to have that green up front for your Lay of the Land but in what one must assume is a green based deck, that shouldn't be much of an issue. Would I rather a sorcery speed fight at one mana or instant at three? Not at all tough. Fight scales very poorly with cost, worse than most other types of card, to the point that it is barely playable beyond one mana. Instant is lovely but it isn't even worth one mana more so a full two is pretty laughable. All in all, Bushwhack is a great card that I look forward to playing with a lot. I think I will play it in basically all my base green decks. There is a bunch of nice new playable looking fight cards out there at present to the point that if all of them stick green might be able to play some more enrage and good on death trigger dorks so as to capitalize on the new found abundance. That in turn might even make some of the quirkier fight tools in green playable as well in a nice feed back loop. Cards like Ulvenwald Tracker and Inscription of Abundance. As you can see, cards like this get me excited because of the far reaching implications they have on the meta as well as the positive effects they have on construction and play. 

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