Sunday 1 January 2023

Phyrexia: All Will Be One Preliminary Review Part I


Slobad, Iron Goblin 2

There is a black two drop version of this from Antiquities or something that is just better, and good as that might seem I have yet to use it powerfully in over a quarter century of trying. Red is a better colour for this kind of thing than black but still. This is a narrow card that you need to support and then find payoff for. It isn't even that powerful and three mana creature tap effect is a long way from quick.

Elesh Norn, Mother of Machines 7

It is a walking Panharmonicon for you, a Tocatli Honor Guard for them, more savage in fact as it is not just creatures and will turn off the likes of Oblivion Ring as well. This is going to shut down a lot in cube and empower a lot as well. A 4/7 vigilance isn't exciting but it is very solid. It will attack most of the time and hold up the ground really well all simultaneously. Elesh is immune to all those Nekratall dorks and is thus quite hard to remove. Normally I would be averse to a five mana do nothing that just dies to removal but Elesh Norn has that double whammy of protection in avoiding any EtB effect and having 7 toughness. Assuming she lives you then get to go wild with your own EtB effects while applying some nice safe pressure. A bit of a grindy card and a bit aimless. If this survives in cubes it is down to raw power and not because any deck is after this card at all, any that were would be using Panharmonicon etc instead. It feels like a slow Vorinclex. Random but relevant perks and disruption with some smackdown. All the new preators are cards I do not like and that seem like aimless do nothings but their power is just so high that they have thus far comfortably made the cut. 

Jor Kadeem, First Goldwarded 2

EDH and build around card. Better than Wyleth although less of a ceiling. Probably not better than Akiri and so just padding more than the main act. 

Koth, Fire of Resistance 5

Interesting walker as far as red ones go. It is quite heavily leaning on the heavy red build, you don't want this if you are light on red, and critically mountains. Ideally you want mostly mountains so that the -3 is doing at least three on turn four. This makes Koth pretty narrow as you want heavy red and control leaning decks to play it. As such I don't think this quite has the power to carry it. If you could play it in aggro decks or in lighter red decks than perhaps. A shame as I do like the +2 mode very much and want to have it in my decks! Would work very well with the likes of Sylvan Library or Diving Top. 

Blightbelly Rat 2

You could argue that toxic was a fixed infect but poison has been around since Legends and was essentially toxic then. Really toxic is just a keyword change like "mill" and infect was just a bad mechanic. Always a little embarrassing  when steps are taken backwards. Like, they fixed free spells in Mercadian Masques by requiring basic land types in play and then fully forgot about that when they brought in phyrexian mana symbols and make all sorts of broken cards and broken colour pie. But good we are back on track in regards poison never the less. Perhaps... as poison isn't a great mechanic either.

 So, toxic covered, is the Rat any good? No. Not for cube. Not unless poison is so good in this set that it becomes an actual archetype. The toxic part here really isn't adding much to the card itself, it is only of interest if the deck it is in wants it. Even then, this is still just a low power filler two drop. The proliferate is cool but you are unlikely to be in control of it and you might even wiff on it if the Rat is answered before any poison is applied. I feel like I am more likely to end up playing this in a sac deck that makes good use of proliferate than I am in a poison deck. I recall many of the powerful black poison cards actually empower cards with infect specifically making this doubly unappealing in other poison builds (along with not scaling up with power buffs). So, overall this card looks good but in practice it is going to struggle finding homes in any 40 card deck.

Cankerbloom 7

Super playable Qasali Pridemage, a bit of a green Goblin Cratermaker. Compared to Pridemage the Cankerbloom is fewer colours with less intensity on them, with greater power and greater utility, all for the relatively low cost of having no exalted. This is only a little more powerful than Pridemage, which considering the time difference and power creep there in, shouldn't impress at all. It is just all about that playability, this is just a cheap card that you are happy playing in most decks and that will do good work. It is about as option rich as they come. It is an answer, a threat, a blocker, and with that proliferate so many more things too! Buffs to dorks, the ability to ultimate planeswalkers early, saga expediting etc etc. The reason I am so conservative in my rating is that green is not really short on means to handle artifacts and enchantments and can certainly do better in tempo and value than Cankerbloom offers. The other such dorks I run in cube are Kappa-Tech Wrecker and Acidic Slime which offer more in most ways. Most notably, having a body in play even when used as removal! This is a great card regardless. It may be better than current options, it may not, it may be a welcome addition to them or be superfluous. You may chose to run it either way because you like it or it suits your cube meta or whatever. Regardless, it is a fine card that will get action enough, which in this world of all the cards, is an achievement. 

Rustvine Cultivator 7.5

Very interesting. A kind of slow and steady Gilded Goose. This will not get you to three mana on turn two but it will get you to four on three, and importantly, it will do this for just one mana on turn one leaving you free to do whatever you want on turn two. This puts it in line with the various suspend ramp cards in green - Rift Sower and Search for Tomorrow. These are both strong cube cards and fairly commonly played although Sower is the weaker as it isn't offering something so unique. Is Rustvine Cultivator better than Rift Sower? On the face of it probably not. It can easily die in the lead up to turn four making it less reliable ramp. It has one less toughness as well. You can't just cast it and have it make mana the following turn, you have to charge it up. Once active Sower is able to make mana every turn not every other turn. Sower also assures fixing while Cultivator only helps to fix for double mana costs. Luckily for Cultivator there is one big positive it has over Rift Sower, and indeed most other ramp cards, and that is land untapping rather than just adding a mana. This allows you to scale this effect up. You have a bounce land? Your Cultivator now adds two mana, like a delightfully cheap and low risk Joraga Treespeaker. Imagine the foolishness with this and Gaea's Cradle.... Cultivator can be extra construct tokens with Urza's Saga. It scales with Wild Growth. Even pseudo vigilance for manlands if needs be etc. Power wise this is certainly comparable to Rift Sower and likely Boreal Druid and Gilded Goose as well. The low end of the one mana ramp cards but still comfortably in the playable camp. It isn't narrow, it is interesting, and it has some scaling potential. Always pleasing to see cards like this as they really help to expand the cube. One day I would like to feel comfortable making a 720 sized cube (mostly so I can compare to others as it is one of the more common cube sizes) and all we really need to get there is redundancy in core one drops which we have been getting in reasonable amounts of late. 

Bladed Ambassador 1

The mana cost to make indestructible kills this. Aaand even if this was zero to activate it wouldn't be better than Adanto Vanguard. A fine enough generic sticky two drop beater but many many better options.

Nissa, Ascended Animist 7 (provisionally)

Not having the rules text for compleated on this caught me off and I thought it was another broken walker, luckily we are not churning out 8/8 tokens on five mana walkers! The way this seems to work is that you are fairly happy playing this anywhere between 5 and 7 mana to fit in with your curve. Generally I think you will hold this till one of the last things you play when you have an option but on big top end stuff that isn't all that common. I expect in cube this will mostly be deployed for 5 but 6 and 7 will absolutely get a decent look in. The -1 is just nice utility, it helps walkers be rounded and games to be involved, interactive and consistent. The +1 is pretty nuts but in a fairly linear way, a bit like a Paradox Zone. You are going to utterly dominate the ground in terms of stats but it is going wide slowly and doesn't help in the skies. An ultimate overrun is always nice. It will help push through those vanilla fatties you made with the +1 and sometimes it will just win the game which is nice. That immediacy of threat is what makes me like this one, assuming it is -7, or possibly lower in this nutty world of power creep! An Overrun mode goes a really long way to making the +1 a lot more threatening of an ability and really allows the size of the tokens to come to bear. All told this is a versatile and flexible card that has a fair whack of power. I am not exactly excited by the card, all told it is pretty boring and generic, a pretty standard green walker, but it seems like it should do fine in cube.

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