Wednesday, 10 June 2015

2015 June 9th Magic: Origins Spoilers

Yesterday, a whole bunch of cards were spoiled on the MtG Mothership Monday. Let's see how the catch my fancy.

I'm taking the cards in the order they're listed here, but of course that page will change, so if you want the originals, they're from here and here.

Avaricious Dragon
It's a mythic, so we're mostly looking at it from a Constructed point of view. First though, we'll take a quick look at the limited implications.
The card looks bomby, and a 4/4 flier for 4 is, well, a Dragon, and quite good. The rider, though, makes things a bit tricky. The main thing is that you probably don't really want to curve into this (assuming there's any reasonable amount of removal in the format), because if they can kill it after you discard your hand, you just got X-for-1d, where X is your whole hand. It's an excellent top-deck of course, and when it is the last play in your hand, you also have the potential to reap some good Card Advantage out of this as well. I think the card has to be good, and probably pretty good, but it's probably not a total bomb.

Okay, constructed implications. My first thought was that this is a playable Dragon, so those archetypes could want this. After a little thought, though that doesn't seem very realistic - you really want this to be your last play, and all the other Dragons are more expensive than this. Maybe you can still pull something off with some of the 5 CMC ones, but it just seems pretty risky. The exception, of course, is Thunderbreak Regent, and these two could definitely be buddies. Ultimately, the biggest home I see for this guy is as a potential curve-topper in a slightly bigger Red Aggro deck. I think Raph Levy was playing something along those lines, and with the possible exception of Thunderbreak, this card just seems better than the alternatives which are available. I expect it to see some play, but I wouldn't be surprised if it only hangs around the fringes and doesn't catch on. It's just pretty bad against removal a la Master of the Feast.

Akroan Jailer
This, like basically all the rest of the spoilers, is pretty clearly a card purely for limited, and I will treat it as such. The card looks bad. Probably not quite totally unplayable, but three mana is just so much in order to do what it does, so you will be pretty unhappy if you ever have to run this.

Grasp of the Hieromancer
This card might be playable - a lot will depend on how good the removal in the set is. If you can get this creature to survive, then the ability is worth it if you are attacking, as you can get a good chunk of damage through. The problem is, you get blown out per normal if this is killed, and this is really not worth it when used defensively.

Valor in Akros
This is the one other card which has me thinking constructed applications. I am thinking of this in a tokens deck, either RW tokens or Jeskai Tokens, where you can be getting some serious buffs to your team. Of course, the problem is, you need tokens in play as well as tokens coming in. Between Rabblemaster, Monastery Mentor, Brimaz, Hordeling Outburst, Raise the Alarm, Dragon Fodder, and Secure the Wastes, there might be enough, but... it's just quite a bit worse than Jeskai Ascendancy. If this cost 3, we could talk. As it is, this is probably a bit too restrictive, needing lots of tokens and costing a bit too much to be worth it. In limited, too, I'm a bit skeptical. You need to play this, and then play a creature every turn for it to be a Glorious Anthem, and even then it only works when attacking. If you can get flicker effects or tokens it could be quite good, but I doubt those would be supported themes given that they were white's theme in M15 and the interaction with morph, respectively. I suppose flickering might be ok.

Heavy Infantry
Color me unimpressed. The going rate would be a 3/5 here, and I am not really excited by a Siege Mastodon (though, hey, they're fine of course). 3/4 seems a decent bit worse than that, and for it you get to tap a guy. The problem is, this body is not efficiently costed, and the ability is purely a way to get damage in right now, and that's just not a big enough impact for me.

Sentinel of The Eternal Watch
This card is a bomb. The ability is the bad half (or more accurately, the not-completely-broken-but-still-good half) of Citadel Siege, and basically that is a removal spell on their best combat creature. On top of this, you get a 4/6 Vigilance, which is respectable on a 6-drop anyway. Both on the same card seems quite nice, and I assume the body will be hard enough to kill that you usually get your effect. This is basically good in every situation, and it seems this will be an A unless somehow the format is very fast such that 6 mana isn't realistic even for a board-stabilizing card.

Veteran's Sidearm
Leonin Scimitar wasn't exciting, and this should be even less so. Probably fringe playable, but you won't want to play it.

Separatist Voidmage
The new and worse Man-o-War. The card will surely be playable, and as much as Marsh Hulk will love it, I am anticipating that it will 'only' be a solid inclusion, and not a high pick. If tempo is a huge deal, it could be quite good though.

This card has me pretty excited. The last time we saw this effect was on Blinding Spray, which was not exciting but saw some play. This card only nerfs power half as much, but costing only 3 is a big game. Of course it can only be used defensively, which is a real drawback. I don't think huge blowouts on this card are going to happen very often, but getting a 2-for-1 seems doable, and worst case it cycles for 3, which isn't good, but isn't that bad. Card will be a lot better if there are other blue instants to hold up (particularly a draw spell of some sort).

Ringwarden Owl
Card looks solid, and probably one of the better blue commons, but not busted. 5 for a 3/3 flier is playable. 5 for a 4/4 flier is very good. And while I expect it will be closer to the former than the latter in practice, the threat is worth something too.

Malakir Cullblade
I don't expect this card to do a lot. If you can get into a grindy game where there are lots of trades happening, it can be good (but it only triggers off your opponent's critters, so it's no Scavenger Drake), but I imagine it will be a bit tough to make that happen. The big issue is, you need this down early, and then it's not impressive early. Later on you might bet it to be a 3/3 or a 4/4, but that's not so busted on later turns anyway. I suspect this will have its homes, but that those won't be every black deck.

Deadbridge Shaman
This card, on the other hand, seems quite good. A 3/1 for 3 is only slightly below rate, and such a way that you are probably getting a trade out of this body very often. That means you are going to get that discard trigger, which is a nice 2-for-1. I expect this to be one of the best black commons in the set.

Eyeblight Assassin
I'm not terribly impressed with this one. If there's lots of 1-toughness creatures floating around, it will obviously get a lot better. But if you have to try to use it to finish off a creature post-combat, what you've done is a lot of work to trade a slightly worse creature for a slightly better one, and gotten a sub-par creature out of it yourself. I am probably going to look to avoid playing this (again, unless 1-toughness creatures are common).

Rabid Bloodsucker
I guess this is playable? The drain is obviously only good in aggressive decks, which I guess is where you might play a 3/2 flier for 5 anyway, but that's just not very good stats baseline, in general.

Reave Soul
Defeat did not impress me much, but this card does. The jump from 2 to 3 power gets a LOT more creatures, and that means this should be a quite good removal spell - up there with Deadbridge Shaman in terms of good black commons.

Shambling Ghoul
The card is solid. Doubt I'm cutting often, but unless the format is particularly filled with Bears, probably not very excited about it either.

Infernal Scarring
Whether or not this card is good probably largely depends on the removal available. If it's Pacifism/Claustrophobia types, or if there's a lot of bounce, the card is likely pretty bad. But if it's more like Flesh to Dust and random-burn-spell, especially if that's sorcery speed, then this is probably... okay, not great, but fine. Overall probably mediocre.

Enthralling Victor
I have a feeling this card will be overrated. It's a 4 mana 3/2, which is decidedly below-curve. And the rider... well, if they held one guy back you might get several damage in, which is pretty nice, but being so restrictive is a knock, and if this isn't particularly well-timed (say, you're on a board stall), it's more or less doing 2 to their face - which isn't horrible, but not good enough to make this a good card. Still should be fine, but probably not a high pick.

Seismic Elemental
This card, on the other hand, looks quite good. Falter on a near-curve body is something I will definitely take. Great to end the game when the board is stalled out, or to push the last points of damage through, and the downside of Falter when you're behind is way mitigated by the 4/4 for 5. Just a very nice card.

Volcanic Rambler
The body is sized well enough that you can play this without being embarrassed, but you're going to prefer not to. You want your 6-drops to do more. The activated ability is nice in board stalls, but not great.

Subterranean Scout
This wants to be paired with Scroll Thief, or a Prowess guy (see below), but in general it looks pretty comparable to Goblin Shortcutter (probably this is a little worse), and that is a serviceable dude.

Hitchclaw Recluse
Filler. Horned-Turtle with upside hasn't been exciting for a while, so unless X/1 fliers are everywhere, I would expect this to be a 25th card that you may board in a good bit.

Conclave Naturalists
The body isn't good enough unless the ability is going to be one a fair bit. It's not completely terrible though, so you can probably run this with a reasonable amount of targets in the format. And when it does hit, the upside is very good.

Mantle of Webs
The problem with this card is that if you're buffing a guy defensively, things are probably still not looking good for you - and it gives them time to 2-for-1 you. Obviously the offensive applications of +1/+3 and reach are mediocre at best.

Joraga Invocation
Um, sticking Lure on an Overrun probably doesn't help it much over not having that clause? Still, Overrun effects can be powerful. Pretty hard for me to evaluate this at the moment, honestly.

Boggart Brute
Menace is interesting. In general, it's got to be worse than standard evasion like flying. But there are scenarios where it's better - can't be brickwalled by one thing, and possibly better in multiples, as you can swarm. Definitely wants to be in an aggressive deck. And this card seems quite good. 3/2 for 3 is just fine as is, and adding in the evasion seems really goood actually. They have to hold two things back, and even if one is big enough to eat this, you can still trade with the other. I expect this to be a high pick.

Jhessian Thief
Scroll Thief with Prowess? Sign me up. Scroll Thief was already a fine card. You probably really need both abilities to make this good though - Jeskai Student was pretty much filler, and Scroll Thief had its ups and downs but was rarely great. This card will be a lot better if you can make it evasive, but the Prowess helps it out a lot. The threat of activation is a big deal - probably they really need to block with a 2/2 on a bluff attack, but given that that is true, you should be able to 2-for-1 them with instants a lot of times. Still, it's a 1/3, so it's not going to be amazing (unless you can give it evasion).

Lightning Javelin
4 Mana for 3 damage at sorcery speed is pretty yawn. You will play it, but it's not exciting. The scry doesn't do much to change that.

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