Ari Swipes Left: A three-mana planeswalker? What a catch! I bet its plus ability protects itself or is card advantage. And its small minus is a real game-changer. And it ultimates to an instant win. And it takes over a game without help.
Jace, Cunning Castaway doesn't do any of these things, does he? The +1 is… card parity conditioned on you not blocking to protect Jace. The -2 is… a Bear. Not even a flying Bear, just a Bear with a drawback. The ultimate is… a little bit more of the same two things that weren't good the first time. Next!
Cedric Swipes Right: Three-mana planeswalkers have a history of being good Magic cards (Jace Beleren, Liliana of the Veil, Domri Rade). And while I don't expect Jace, Cunning Castaway to be as good as those three were, I do expect this version of Magic's poster child to be a solid inclusion in whatever Pirate deck is running around Standard.
Will this make an impact outside of Standard? I find that fairly unlikely. But with a +1 that plays well with fliers and creatures with menace, a -2 that allows Jace to defend himself, and an ultimate that's actually not very hard to get to - and likely has some combo built into it that I'm not thinking of – Jace strikes me as good but not great.
Ari Swipes Right: Six mana is a lot to ask for card these days. Vraska, Relic Seeker isn't exciting for the cost. The big issue is that making a single 2/2 menace Pirate a turn isn't a big deal. If Vraska immediately dies to a Cast Out, I'm not even sure I would rather have the 2/2 than a random card.
But Vraska kills things. A lot of weird things too, like Ixalan's Binding or Gate to the Afterlife. There's a lot to be said for having a card that is capable of winning a game, killing a random big creature, and cleaning up odd messes. She doesn't do any of those particularly well, but she does all of them. The fact that she still sits at "kill something" range after being used as a removal spell also gives you a pretty backbreaking play to plan for. That's enough to warrant a copy or two in some 75s.
Cedric Super Likes: Six-mana planeswalkers don't have the history that three-mana planeswalkers do, but we've seen some be absolutely dominant (Elspeth, Sun's Champion and Chandra, Flamecaller come to mind). Vraska. Relic Seeker is very appealing to me for quite a few reasons:
1. She has the ability to defend herself with a creature that has relevant text in the off-chance she doesn't need defending.
2. Because Vraska starts with six loyalty, you can use her -3 twice during her lifespan.
3. Vraska's -3 kills artifacts and enchantments.
4. The -10 will win the game a high percentage of the time and only takes two +2 activations to get to.
5. Because she's green, Vraska will be easier to ramp to than other six-mana planeswalkers (and that doesn't even bring Treasure into the equation).
Again, this isn't a card I expect to make an impact outside of Standard, and I certainly don't expect to see four copies of Vraska running around in decks, but I do expect our Relic Seeking friend to be a very impactful planeswalker during her time in Standard.
Ari Swipes Left: Everyone is always about what is fresh, new and spiffy. They forget the solid options that already exist. In the majority of decks that people are trying to put Captain Lannery Storm in, Pia Nalaar is just better. You know what Pia doesn't have to do to make an artifact? Run into the combat abyss. Oh, wow, you control Ripjaw Raptor? Guess my card does nothing. Good thing it didn't make a Firebreathing flier or Falter that Dinosaur instead!
Cedric Swipes Left: It's probably not fair of me to compare this to Goblin Rabblemaster, but when I think of a 2/2 for 2R, I want something that's on the same level as the format-warping Goblin Warrior. Perhaps Captain Lannery Storm is better than I'm giving her credit for, as a Treasure on the third turn of the game allows Glorybringer and a bevy of other powerful spells to arrive ahead of schedule. But with such a fragile body and what may end up being fairly irrelevant game text, I expect this Human Pirate to die a lot before ever getting the opportunity to heavily impact a game.
Ari Swipes Left: Two scenarios.
Scenario one: You have cards in hand. If they are bad and expensive, why are they in your deck? If they are bad and cheap, why didn't you cast them earlier and why are they in your deck? If they are good, why are you randomly discarding them?
If you want to be actively discarding cards, I'm all for Rowdy Crew. But just as a normal card, I don't see it working out right now.
Cedric Swipes Right: If you've ever been on the receiving end of a backbreaking Hymn to Tourach, you know just how devastating discarding two cards at random can be. But Rowdy Crew isn't Hymn to Tourach. It's something else entirely, and I think people are having difficulty understanding that.
When Rowdy Crew causes you to discard awesome cards, you're obviously going to be jaded. But what about the times when you discard two irrelevant lands and gas back up with three new spells? Then you'll be hoping to get rowdy with these trampling Human Pirates!
The only reason I haven't given Rowdy Crew a Super Like is because Chandra, Torch of Defiance and Hazoret the Fervent are going to crowd it out of the format initially. But once Rowdy Crew gets some space in the format, I hope they can forgive me for using my one Super Like of the day on Vraska, Relic Seeker.
Ari Super Likes: My initial reaction to this card was "Fragile, but good if it lives…" Since then, I've finished that sentence with "Oh yeah, if it lives, you probably win the game." We are entering a format where everything is trying to figure out how to beat Hazoret the Fervent, The Scarab God, and just generally a bunch of other good cards. Not only does this exile the cards, dodging the various Gods' abilities, but you then just beat them with their own good card. They literally have a turn to answer your Hostage Taker before this happens, and good luck winning if you have any way to set up for it. And if you just exile a cheap creature, Hostage Taker opens up double-spell follow-up turns or even a "Hostage Taker, cast the hostage" blowout.
Cedric Swipes Right: Ignoring the instant errata that took place on Hostage Taker, this U/B Human Pirate is absolutely awesome. Her body is somewhat fragile with all the removal running around Standard, but once you get past that, Hostage Taker reminds me a lot of Gonti, Lord of Luxury – a card that has seen its fair share of play in Standard.
Will it be better than the Aetherborn Rogue? I'm not so sure. But it does have the potential to be as swingy as and maybe even swingier than its counterpart. I'm excited to see what the Pirate decks will look like at SCG Dallas next week, but I'd be shocked if they didn't include Hostage Taker.
Ari Swipes Left: Oh wow, we get to destroy basically every creature with our ramp payoff! There aren't that many Dinosaurs you could run into. And there's no reason to play them outside of tribal decks!
Okay, those cards are pretty darn good. But it's not like those are capable of running into a 7/7!
Ok, but basically everything else that matters dies to Wakening Sun's Avatar…
Okay, fine, but it's not like the other threats people play won't…..
Cedric Swipes Left: Big effect? Sure. Killing all non-Dinosaur creatures and leaving a 7/7 behind for eight mana absolutely is a big effect. But is that good enough for top Standard-level play or be impactful in older formats? I doubt it.
Collins Mullen just got second place at GP Washington DC with a G/W Ramp deck that played four Fumigates, two Descend upon the Sinful, and three Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, so there's a precedent for a deck that isn't afraid to pay a lot of mana to get the job done. I'm just not sold this is what that type of deck is looking for. I think the mass removal needs to be cheaper (five or six mana) and the win condition has to be game over upon arrival (which Ulamog always was).
Ari Swipes Right: Similar to Vraska, Relic Seeker, Huatli, Warrior Poet isn't winning any Gideon, Ally of Zendikar efficiency awards. Five mana and sitting at three loyalty if you want to generate any card advantage is not a rock-solid presence. Huatli gets straight-up erased by Glorybringer.
But each of her abilities can be game-breaking. Churning out 3/3s? Sure. Your choice of Arc Lightning or Falter? Yup. Dropping some lifegain to fully stabilize before either is the bonus mode option that makes certain games totally unlosable.
This is not going to be a good card Week 1 where threats and linearity crush balanced answers, but in a few weeks, as people start trying to midrange each other, Huatli, Warrior Poet will have quietly become insane.
Cedric Swipes Left: Whenever a new character is introduced as a planeswalker in Magic, I always want it to be good. Sometimes that happens (Elspeth, Karn, Sorin). Sometimes it doesn't (Kiora, Narset, Ral Zarek). In this instance, I'm having some real trouble imagining where Huatli fits into the good camp.
The +2 on Huatli requires you to have another creature on the battlefield and I just don't know how likely that will be for a Dinosaur deck. I'd like to assume that will be the case the majority of the time, but, again, there's a lot of removal running around Standard.
The ability to pump out 3/3 green Dinosaurs with trample is nice for sure. Nothing else to say about that.
But the -X simply doesn't excite me. Again, this might be an instance of me underrating what's going on here, but this strikes me as a very expensive Falter effect that reminds me a lot of Aurelia's Fury, a card that everyone had extremely high hopes for but never really materialized into anything of relevance.
Here's hoping I'm wrong about Huatli.
Ari Swipes Left: My thoughts on Merfolk should be well known by now.
The deck is flawed on a fundamental level w/o free interaction and no individual card in it is good enough to override its failings.— Ari Lax (@armlx) September 13, 2017
I've determined I can't change Fish supporters minds, so I just hope publicly eviscerating them helps others realize the right path.— Ari Lax (@armlx) September 13, 2017
No matter what the text on this card says, it doesn't change the fact your deck is slow, barely interactive if your opponent knows the four cards you can play that do something, and consists solely of the easiest-to-interact-with card type.
They probably aren't much better for Standard either.
Cedric Swipes Left: For me, this one's actually quite simple. Kopala strikes me as below the bar for Standard play, as the textbox isn't relevant enough and it being a 2/2 means it will have difficulty attacking and/or blocking.
In older formats like Modern and Legacy where Merfolk is a deck that people like to play, if you want this effect, you just go to Kira, Great Glass-Spinner. If you want an additional Merfolk for tribal reasons, Merfolk Sovereign exists and doesn't see an ounce of play.
Sorry about that whammy, Kopala.