Sunday, September 9, 2012

Episode VI: Return to Ravnica: The Story so Far: The Grixis Cards: Abuse of the Colon

Ha ha, colon.

Alright, boys and girls, time to judge a bunch of cards I haven't seen played and make a fool of myself in about two months. Let's get to it! No nonsense! Right to the action!

Jace, Architect of Thought
Unfortunately, this name won out over Jace, Manipulator of Thinking, Jace, Brain Changer and Jace, the Okay He Does Mind Control Shit That's His Thing. A tiny twinge of irony/disappointment hits me when I look at his mana cost; I don't think I need to elaborate. His +1 is straightforward, underwhelming, and boring. If we compare Jace to Tamiyo (which seems fair, as they're competing mono-blue planeswalkers at very close mana slots and their first two abilities have some interesting parallelism), it's pretty obvious that Tamiyo deals with large single threats, and Jace handles weenies better.
And yet, Tamiyo's -2 is better against large numbers of creatures. I feel that this makes the choice between the two less situational, and basically leaves you with Tamiyo as the straight-up better card. Jace's -2 is... fine, but the reason Fact or Fiction is good is because you can end up with as many as four cards for the price of one. When there's only three cards and your opponent knows how to make the piles properly, you usually end up with one card off of a -2. Doesn't really stand up to good ol' Tammy.
Both planeswalkers sport ultimates that will more than likely win you the game if your deck contains the right cards. Tamiyo needs small things Thought Scour or Pillar of Flame to cast over and over again, and Jace needs something huge like Omniscience. How good the Bribery side of it is will obviously be very situational and dependent on your opponent's deck (this isn't EDH, you're not necessarily going to get anything worthwhile).
I find the fact that Tamiyo and Jace are basically polar opposites to be fascinating, flavor-wise. But when it comes down to it, it basically just makes Tamiyo... better. I'm not planning on playing Jace, Architect of Thought any time soon. hahahahaha I never said that. Don't know what you're talking about. He's great.

Skyline Predator
Man, a 3/4 Flash Flying creature. That sounds reallllly good. How much is it, like... four mana? Oh, SIX? Jesus, no thank you.

It has already become obvious from what we've seen spoiled that B/G zombies is going to be a motherfuckin' thing. So I'm gonna need as many Dissipate-likes as I can get. But how does Syncopate stand up as a card on its own?
Between Goblin Electromancer (oh man, more on him later...) and Arcane Melee, I'm planning on seeing Syncopate play as a Mana Leak with up-side quite often. The thing is, Scaling is always a good thing. I love Devil's Play because it starts off as a 2-mana Mana Dork machine gun, and ends up taking out Titans in the late-game. It's never terribly mana-efficient, but it gives you options. You know what else gives you options? Card Advantage. And CA is a good thing. So that means Syncopate is a good thing.

...Right? I think that's how that works.

What if I told you for the price of a Burning Vengeance, you could have... Well, a Burning Vengeance! But that's not all. You know that whole thing about "from the graveyard"? Screw it! Slap some numbers on the bottom-right corner and you have yourself a Guttersnipe. Unfortunately, this card is even more poorly-timed than Talrand when it comes to taking advantage of the "free" Phyrexian Mana spells, so we'll see how this guy pans out. So far, we've seen two and four be the relevant toughnesses, so two is a good place to be.

Mizzium Mortars
Flame Slash does not mind the "underloaded" half of this card, but Bonfiring your opponents board for four sure does sound saucy. The trip-red cost is awfully restrictive, but the mana-fixing we've seen in this set is superb. People will compare it to Bonfire, yeah. I have bad news, guys, it's not as good. BUT. I will certainly be picking up a few copies over Bonfire for one major reason and one excuse. Reason One: It's like fifty bucks, man!!! Reason two: Arcane Melee expects to draw 3-5 cards every turn by the mid-game. I haven't tested it out yet (fifty bucks!!!), but Bonfire doesn't seem like a card that's applicable to my deck. I'm perfectly happy with my Blasphemous Acts, thank you. But when Goblin Electromancer (can you tell I'm excited to talk about that card???) starts getting pissed about getting slapped in the face for 13 over and over again, Mizzium Mortars seems like a reasonable choice. There are a LOT of good cards that die to 4 damage, particularly.

Street Spasm
Now THIS is a bad bonfire. And yet, I think to myself, "Self: how often do you really flashback your Devil's Play? Don't you usually Mystic Retrieval it to get around exiling it anyway?" This card seems pretty good, too, I'm afraid. There's too many goddamn viable cards in this set!!!

Augur Spree
Seems really good when you get removal out of it OR a big power buff to X/5+'s. But I don't really like creatures, so...

Carnival Hellsteed
Hey, cut it out! This blog is about control.

Is awesome.
It kinda hurts that this card is a Sorcery, though. Luckily we don't need to worry about fuckin' Inkmoth Nexus anymore, but in its place (and for another month or so, right next to it) is Rancor. Hypersonic Dragon may end up being really bad, but if it doesn't (big if), Dreadbore gets that much better. In any case, this is the first instance of "destroy target planeswalker" we've seen (don't get me started on how much it annoys me flavor-wise), and that's pretty freakin' good. Grixis is getting a lot of stuff, which means Nicol Bolas becomes a bigger threat. And he's really, really big. Eight Loyalty is a lot. But Dreadbore doesn't give a shit about loyalty. It only cares about drinking the blood of its enemies like Sarge from Red vs. Blue.

Goblin Electromancer
Oh man oh man oh man! The only thing that isn't completely bonkers-awesome (bonksome) about this card is that it's very possible it replace the title card of my deck! We can only hope that it doesn't, though, because then you get Electromelee. Mmmm....
I've been ranting about how great Arcane Melee since it was first announced, and now we get a WAY BETTER ONE. That makes me happy. So happy, in fact, that I already own two. I plan on completing buying more to complete my playset and then BUYING MORE ANYWAY. Frickin' so frickin' excited about this card.

Havoc Festival
Would seem pretty sick in an all-in aggro deck like Goblins if it wasn't for the fact that it's way out of the mana-curve of anything that would want this effect.

Hypersonic Dragon
Making your sorceries fast is good. I don't think I need to prove that to anybody. Problem is, the mana you're paying isn't really for that effect. It's for the hasty 4/4 flyer. I mean, Leyline of Anticipation was four mana, and it had the "Leyline ability" as upside. So hopefully we see something more applicable to control that has the same effect.

Izzet Charm
Choose one - Better Spell Pierce; or Worse Shock; or Careful Study. For UR. That's friggin' sweeeeet!!! The past charm cards (and the Commands) have proven over and over again that putting options on cards allows them to transcend their lack of mana-efficiency (1UUU for a counterspell?? Preposterous!). It's pretty obvious that this is good. I mean, Negate, Pillar of Flame, and Faithless Looting are all in the deck already, be it maindeck or sideboard. Seems like this one should fit right in.

Nivix Guildmage
This guy didn't even whelm me--let alone overwhelm me--when I first saw him. But the thing is, he gets you through cards, and he extracts more value out of the ones you hold on to. And I like that a lot. A four mana copy is no Reverberate, but you could be so bold as to call it card advantage. And again, people like card advantage. I definitely like the idea of copying my Dreadbores. It's just a shame Sorin's Vengeance won't be standard with this guy.

Niv-Mizzet, Dracogenius
My favorite thing about this guy is that he obviously came up with his name himself. He's just that kind of dude.
I run the original Niv in EDH, and it's only natural to compare him to such a striking resemblance. By the time you've hit 2UURR, you're really not concerned with X/1's and X/2's in most cases. I don't foresee the new Niv killing too many creatures, if we're being honest. He has a solid body and draws you some cards, but it's awkward sitting on a 5/5 and trying to get excited about mana-restricted card draw. Like Hypersonic Dragon, he does some good stuff for Control, but his aggressive body makes him overcosted for our purposes.

Rakdos' Return
Was soooooo awesome before they pre-nerfed it with Loxodon Smiter. Sad face.
To be honest, I don't know that it was all that awesome before. General discard effects (i.e. Mind Rot instead of Duress) aren't really good in every matchup. Maybe sticking a Fireball is good. I don't know. It really does depend on how much play Loxodon Smiter sees.

Slaughter Games
First of all, this card is just cool. This is uber-Meddling Mage for not all that much more mana. I mean, for the amount of text on this card, it sure is elegant. Hey, you know Bonfire? Not today, Death. Not today.

Chromatic Lantern
It fixes your mana problems! Got mana problems! This! It fixes them!

The Shock Lands
Hey, these do too!

The Gate Lands
Heyyy... Okay I'm bored.

Grixis! It's a deck! I'm excited :)