Review: Rockshard Elemental

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 4
Willbender fo sho.

Discussion:

One of the most dangerous Willbenders out there, Rockshard Elemental is a very good Type 4 card because it produces memorable moments. Because of a combination of stealth, double-strike, and the available of absurdly powerful instant-speed pump cards flying around the table at basically all times, the Rockshard Elemental is a treacherous glass cannon, especially in a draft where lots of Willbenders have been drafted and you never know which one is actually a double-striking face devourer.

It takes very little to tip a Rockshard Elemental into one-hit-kill territory, and the funny thing is once one slips past blockers, it often becomes a pretty fun political mini-game to see if it can hit a player, get boosted, or get killed before contact (and then you have to worry about Fogs). Every interaction with Rockshard Elemental can mean death because of the other actors at the table. The morph-ability means you can cast it at low opportunity cost and have an improved chance to make contact with an opponent’s life total. It’s also a card that’s basically worthless otherwise, so really, this is one of the better creatures for Type 4 that won’t likely dominate games.

Overall: Four Morph apologists out of five

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Review: Dragonlair Spider

Draft Priority: 4

Impact: 4

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

This card reminds me of something you might have never experienced if you are:

a) Cleaner than me (virtually a given)

b) Less lazy than I (pretty likely)

Have you ever been posted up at your place just doin’ YOU when you spot a spiderweb? Maybe even a spider in it. And you see it doin’ it’s thing, and you’re doin’ yours, and you just figure “aah fuck it it’s just a spider”. So you leave it be out a combination of laziness and apathy, with that middling thought in the back of your head you’re not entirely sure about that a spider in the house might keep the lesser bugs at bay. So in a way, it’s an asset.

Time passes. You’re not exactly getting familiar with this arachnid visitor…you’ve probably forgotten about it. But then one day you look at the same web and it’s FULL OF SMALLER SPIDERS.

What now?

Dragonlair Spider can nicely replicate that whole scenario in a game of Type 4. Granted, if your opponent is one of those idiots or pendants who’s constantly reminding people of triggers (and probably flicking cards around in their hand), then it’s unlikely you’re going to be playing and suddenly realize that there’s a dozen spiders sitting around the Dragonlair Spider in a lethal formation of too many legs. But if you’re playing with regular peopel you need to keep an eye on this token-producing beast. It’s not a great creature unto itself but a quick counterspell slapfight later it’s bringing considerable backup. The fact that the tokens have Reach also gives tremendous bonus points for being really good chump blockers.

Another great entry from Planechase 2012!

Overall: Four “Why”s out of five

Review: Explosive Impact

Draft Priority: 3

Impact: 3

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost. AGAIN MY GOD WHATS HAPPENING ITS ALMOST LIKE I CHOOSE GOOD CARDS

Discussion:

This card should just be called ‘PUNCH IN THE FACE’ with the all-caps. It’s basically just that. Sometimes a punch in the face is exactly what you need, though, and these type of higher-end burn spells are totally needed in Type 4. They keep people on their toes and help prevent stalemates, so I was quite pleased to see another high-cost, high-damage instant-speed burn spell get printed. I wish there were dozens of slight variants of this spell, they would all go into the stack.

Here’s some strategy tips on using Explosive Impact: use it on targets to kill them

Overall: Three and a half allcaps out of five

Review: Arc-Slogger

Draft Priority: 1

Impact: 1

Stack Status: 1
Cut.

Discussion:

Arc-Slogger puts me in a tight spot. Because he’s my man, and while he has haters, you’re busy posting sniping comments about him on message boards while he’s out partying with B-list (le’s be honest) celebrities, zapping motherfuckers dumb enough to try to slide up on his girl, and just going around beasting like you’d exactly some kind of non-socially-conscious Russel Brand type character to be up to. While I’ve always had a soft spot for the Slogger because of Mirrodin draft, I can’t really give him a great score here because I’m reviewing cards from the standpoint of the Academy Standard game mode in Type 4.

There, he’s liable to get in two zaps–AT BEST–before he causes you to lose the game. A 4/5 with ‘do four damage, then lose’ is pretty unimpressive. So in Academy Standard, he sucks. Full stop.

I have kept him around for a while because he’s a lot better in some other game modes like Single Stack and Blind Decks. But we don’t play those as often, and the reality is poor Arc-Slogger is a card people resent getting pushed. Half of it is their messageboard-gater jealousy, and half is that he really does suck during the game. But it adds up to Arc-Slogger getting cut.

Overall: One and a half ostrich turtlenecks out of five

Review: Torchling

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 5

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

ME LIEK TORCHLING

Here’s a diagram that helps demonstrate why.

torchling

 

Once Torchling resolves, the game changes because Torchling MAKES IT CHANGE. Drawing on the infinite mana around it, it creates a swirling vortex of shenanigans that no player can truly escape from until the Torchling expires. Attacks have to consider the Torchling’s limitless blocking capability, and as an attacker WITH Torchling, you have the ultimate diversion as your opponent’s STUPID creatures run off in pursuit of it’s pretty mane of flame while your other creatures creep towards the opposing planeswalker with shivs. Spells? Torchling can absorb a lot of them, or throw itself on the sword of a Doom Blade or whatever.

I guess it shouldn’t be surprising that it’s a Morphling card and it’s good in Type 4. It’s not AS good as Morphling, of course, but the blue one isn’t as exciting as the red one (as usual) even if it is more efficient. Torchling is kind of like a Honda Civic of ass whooping in reliability, low maintenance, and accessibility, while Torchling is like that old snowmobile that you and your cousin rigged with wheels for inexplicable reasons. It’s of questionable quality, may sputter out at any moment, and utterly unsafe but it’s fun as hell to use while it’s working and people take notice.

smw

Surely not a cultural phenomenon limited to northern Ontario… right…?

Overall: Five SCIENCE out of five, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval

 

Review: Skarrgan Firebird

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 3
Hmmm not sure about this entirely

Discussion:

MEETING

I want you to work, Mr. Firebird. I really want you to keep it real with my bros in the stack. THe problem is you often seem to come up just a little bit short of the expectations of your project manager, end up passing responsibility on to others when you can’t handle your workload, and then to end up sitting on the sidelines while others finish the job.

“B-but I’m resilient! When the chips are down I come back to keep working! I-I’m a u-u-useful stopgap?”

Hmmm… well, you make that claim, Mr. Firebird, but what else could be done instead of stopgapping n that same timeframe? Couldn’t we be using that time to focus on something like getting a Dragonlair Spider into play, or dropping a Decree of Pain?

“Well, that seems l-like an unfair c-comparison!”

Is it, though? They all occupy the same desk space as you, work the same hours, and the only upside you seem to offer is when you fail, you eventually come back and try again. Why don’t we just skip that failure and go for a winner right off the bat?

“Sometimes even t-the best coworkers g-g-g-g-get wrecked, and I-I’m the only one here!”

That’s true Mr. Firebird. It does happen occasionally. Which is why we’re keeping you around but putting you on a probationary period. Govern yourself accordingly.

– Andy adjusts his skirt and leaves the HR office, where Skarrgan Firebird starts sobbing uncontrollably trying to console himself listening to Creed on his smartphone –

Overall: Two unfulfilled potentials out of five

Review: Maelstrom Nexus

Draft Priority: 5

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 5
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

With absolutely no *6* scores and–spoiler alert–no Glare of Approval, you might be wonder if after a couple hundred of these reviews whether I’m losing my touch.

Maybe you’re right.

…well… I guess that aside, there’s a good reason for that. This is an obviously-powerful card and I think the ratings reflect that but the random nature of cascade hampers it a lot, and that’s when you get to actually use it. For all that potential it carries, keep in mind that you need to cast spells to use the cascade, you can only cast one spell per turn, and a lot of those spells are going to be lower-cost instants on opponents turns trying to cascade into other low-cost instants. The result can be a sort of ‘traffic jam’ of spells where you’re flipping untimely counterspells and bounce spells that are good, but require precise application to make efficient and effective. Malestrom Nexus is like loading those into a shotgun and just spraying the scene.

Another side-effect is that if you get enough of those low-cost Cascades off, you find your deck is lacking those ‘transitional’ spells that give you a lot of your action and interaction, and you’re just drawing big, sorcery-speed windmill slammers. That said, if you get off enough triggers you’ll probably be winning by that point, so whatever.

Overall: Five lonely drinks out of five

Review: Predatory Advantage

Draft Priority: 2

Impact: 2

Stack Status: 2
Marginal bit player.

Discussion:

I’m never 100% sure on why I put this card into my stack int he first place. It’s obviously unspectacular, and not in the way Repulse is, because that’s also obviously functional; this card is just a blatant throwaway card by design, middling as they come with a neither-here-nor-there approach. I’m guessing if it wasn’t a rare, I never would have considered it stack worthy. There’s a good chance I just got tired of having it sit in my binder instead of getting some action.

So in it went, and it’s been consistently drafted low and put in mediocre performances. I’m hesitant to say it’s bad, though. Occasionally, it puts in a very good game, and it has a surprising amount of less-tangible impact in that it compels people to play creatures when they might not normally. That type of thing can be tough to measure, but I’ve personally felt a bit pressured to drop my Crater Hellion a bit early to wipe the lizards and prevent any more from popping up.

So I’m not cutting it yet, but when a more reliable, paced token producer gets discovered by me, I’ll likely get replaced. In smaller stacks, this can certainly stay on the bench.

Overall: Two “Crater Hellion solves everything”s out of five

Review: Street Spasm

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: 5

Stack Status: 4
Boss husslin’

Discussion:

The scores aren’t higher for two reasons: Street Spasm is eminently playable outside Type 4, and Dwarven Catapult exists and is better. But those don’t keep Street Spasm from ascending into instant-must-have territory for the vast majority of Type 4 stacks. But this kind of high-impact effect isn’t often available at Instant speed. A well-time Street Spasm is one of those truly unexpected game-changing effects that are just about impossible to predict. You expect wraths at sorcery speed, but one-sized wipes during somebody else’s combat step? A little more scarce.

I remember that this was one of the earliest Return to Revnica preview cards and on that basis alone, I declared that RTR would be bangin off the chain for Type 4. While it wasn’t exactly wrong, it tended to be true in the way that was bitter sweet; just a bunch of generally ‘good’ cards that weren’t special in Type 4 necessarily. A mess of nWo designs. Not a whole lot of hidden gems, though now with Magic not much is ‘hidden’ given the number of websites and authors who need to just produce content at all times.

All in, you need Street Spasm in your stack, but I’m just disappointed the rest of the cards from it’s block didn’t live up the hype I saddled it with entirely of my own volition.

Overall: Five hype train wrecks out of five

Review: Bloodfire Colossus

Draft Priority: *6*

Impact: *6*

Stack Status: *6*
Stacker Pentecost.

Discussion:

Here’s the deal.

Your man rolls up on the scene. He’s jacked as imaginable, has four arms, and carries a sword as tall as he is. He’s also a giant, which doesn’t hurt. You and your man roll up on whatever scrap where your pleb opponents are throwing around creatures like Archon of the Triumvirate and acting hard because of it. It’s bullshit and everybody knows it but they can’t lose face by admitting their weak-ass game. Time for you and Bloodfire Colossus to clear the air, ground, and some of those seats with players in them.

Here’s the thing: it’s Inferno on legs, and legs that can obviously bang a 4 plate squat for reps. Don’t be a moron and say it could backfire. Don’t get wrapped up in whether activating the Inferno might hurt your own board position. Just start hollering YOLO and slam the Colossus down and watch the complexion of the entire game change. Suddenly, everybody acts like there’s a giant muscled sculpture made of nitroglycerin in the middle of the table OH WAIT THERE IS.

Bloodfire Colossus is awesome. I consider it one of the all-time greats of multiplayer fatties, and in Type 4 it’s better than ever. Go over and pretend to spot him while secretly just mirin.

Overall: Five pl8s out of 5, Stacker Pentecost Glare of Approval