Constructed Review Part 4: Primal and Skycrag

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Hi Friends! This is part 4 of my constructed set review. Please check out part 1, part 2 and part 3 as well! I also wrote a short “Hot takes for Filthy Netdeckers” article, in case you having a hard time starting in the new format.

★★★★★Total rock star – either a headline card in a one of the most popular decks, or a common inclusion in multiple high-level archetypes. Tier 1 decks are built around these cards. Examples: Sandstorm Titan, Harsh Rule, Oni Ronin

★★★★Popular but not as powerful – either a common support card in popular deck or an important inclusion in a tier 2-3 deck. Very good in the right situations, but sometimes they just don’t fit in the metagame, or are simply one of the less exciting inclusions in major decks. Examples: Cirso, Deathstrike, Sword of Icaria

★★★Tech and/or Niche: maybe this is a powerful card without a home, or maybe it is a niche role player that sneaks up in the right situations. The best deck builders will know when to use these, but do not expect them on ladder every day. These are often in competition with other cards for limited space. Examples:  Sabotage, Crownwatch Cavalry, Thunderstrike Dragon

★★ Long Shot: Some cards are powerful, but cost a lot. Some are do-nothings that could fit into weird combo decks. Some cards are largely there for the memes and end up getting showing up in some fringe decks. All those cards get 2 stars! A lot of these cards are actually 1s or 4+, and but are too difficult to predict at the moment. Examples: Crown of Possibilities, The Last Word, Sporefolk

★ Unplayable: I do not expect these cards to see play. Either there are better options, or the stats:power ratio is just how high enough. Many commons made for draft land here. Examples: Xenan Guardian, Forge Wolf, Mithril Mace

Primal

Cloudsnake Hatchling

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★ Didn’t see play before, can’t see a reason to take it seriously now. If these make it into ranked, it is on the back of his little friend that we are going to see very soon.

Hearty Stranger

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★ I touched on the potential for a Strangers deck extensively in the Time review, but I doubt this is an important piece in making that strategy work.

Snowcrust Yeti

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★★★ Very reasonable 1-drop for a Primal heavy beatdown deck. I am sceptical that Primal heavy versions of Skycrag are going to be as popular as Fire heavy versions, so this gives me some pause, but a 1-drop with a good ability and a relevant unit type is certainly well positioned if the correct deck becomes popular.

Weather the Storm

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★ This seems more like a Time card than a Primal card. I know that Primal doesn’t get much in the way of combat tricks, but this is pitiful! This is like reverse Detain, and just as good as the original.

Cloudsnake Breeder

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★★★ It is unfortunate that Primal is a little short of 1 drops or team pump effects. A 2/1 and a 1/2 flyer on 2 would be extremely annoying if it were able to happen consistently, but with PP as influence cost, this is a little difficult to Trigger consistently. Still, this is worth testing, and is certainly not a crazy long shot.

Dragonbreath

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★ This seems like a bad Predator’s Instinct in most cases. What does this do that is unique and powerful for ranked? I can’t think of a deck that would not have a superiour substitute. Let me know if I am missing something, but I expect this card is purely draft material.

Maelstrom Bell

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★ Since this was spoiled by Scarlatch I have been trying to rack my brain to figure out what this is supposed to do. Are we playing some weird Primal control list where we have 1 spell and we just ring the bell every turn to juice it for a 1-shot kill? I don’t even think this is an interesting meme card. Hope someone proves me wrong, but man is this strange.

Mating Call

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★★ Now this is a meme card I can get behind! Playing this on just a normal card that you have 4 copies of in your deck is a huge mistake. You need to find some combo with this to make it playable. Given how broken the current iterations of Roaches are, I feel like there is something here worth exploring, even if it doesn’t work mechanically quite the way you want. My personal favorite is some sorta Makto + Mirror Image deck. I am also marking this up on the basis of future combos. I can easily imagine Gang Up style cards coming in the future. This is honestly a 1-star card in my mind, but the call is too strong for me to resist.

Trailblaze

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★★ I have seen a number of people talking about this for ranked, but this card is really not that good. You are not getting any real card advantage with Trailblaze, but instead you are spinning your wheels! If you just want more card flow I imagine that something like Levitate or Inspire are better places to be. I will give it 2 stars because you can’t go that wrong including this as a 1-of, or maybe a “spells matter” deck emerges that just wants card draw, but for now I am really uninterested.

Talon Dive

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★ Rampage has not seen oodles of ranked play, and this is a conditional rampage. I suppose there is some Primal heavy aggro deck that could play this, but I just think there are better options in almost any deck I can imagine

Yeti Snowchucker

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.★★ I have already talked about the potential for Primal heavy aggro, and this seems like it could fit into such deck if they want to go really hard into Primal. I suppose there is a world where yetis get enough support where this is becomes an important roleplayer. Attacking for 4 after a Wump is not nothing! Still, this dude has a lot of competition, and if he sees play, it is a very narrow archetype.

Cloudsnake Harrier

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★★★★ 3/3 flyer for 3 is probably good enough in a lot of aggressive decks, and Skyrag aggro will love to have bonus damage on their burn spells. 4 damage Torch, 7 damage Obliterate, 5 damage Mortars… I am interested to see the range of decks it fits into, but the fact this has such an obvious home makes me pretty optimistic about this card, even if it is not a rockstar.

Cobalt Ring

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★★ I have played Blind Storyteller in ranked, and although that card is more efficient than this, it also dies a ton. I could see ring as being part of some reanimator lists, a 1-of in some control decks. Still, this is incredibly slow, and it needs to be thought of as closer to a 6 or 9 drop than a 3 drop.

Crafty Yeti

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★ Wump is the only Yeti “payoff” for a yeti tribal deck, and although have a loot is nice on something like this, the 3/2 for 3 body is just too behind the curve. Maybe with more yetis in the future this becomes a thing, but that seems like quite the long-shot.

Foothills Alpha

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★ This is a good doggo. Just wants to explore and not fight. 12/10 would keep the h*ck out of battle.

Icebow

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★ This is a fine role player in draft, but where do you want this in ranked? Can’t you just play a removal spell? In a deck with all deadly units this could be an interesting tempo removal spell, that is not a thing in Primal. I understand that this works with infiltrate and spark, but that is not good enough in my opinion (Ghostform never saw serious play as an infiltrate enabler for example).

Mind Link

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★★ One of Primal’s themes in this set is “durdly meme relics”, and Mind Link is a core part of such strategies. Just to clarify – you get a copy of the unit that you transform the unit into rather than the original. If you Polymorph a Sandstorm Titan you get a 1/1 not a 5/6. There is something about this card that looks powerful, but DWD might just be successfully Jebbaitting me. Unstable Form is a neat combo I supposed. I need to think about it more.

Skyrider Vanguard

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★★ A dedicated mono-flyers aggro deck could actually want this. A 3/1 flyer for 3 is not good enough, but if you are getting a consistent +2/+0 form this beyond being a 3/1 it seems fine. This is certainly a long shot, but I do actually think this is worth testing.

Stormcrasher

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★ A 2/2 for 3 is just not good enough, and the ability is too inefficient for me to be interested. Pretty lame. There are enough good flyers that you shouldn’t need to go this deep.

Jotun Cyclops

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★ The base of Back Ally Bouncer is not exciting. If you are forced to play stuff like to make Primal aggro work, maybe the deck isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Ridgeline Watcher

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★ There needs to be some kind of “aegis-matters” deck with absolutely ludicrous payoffs for me to be interested in a card like this.

Skyward Seer

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★★ I guess there might be some midrange deck with things like Black Sky Harbinger or some similar nonsense where this does something, but the base body is just so bad. 1/3 is not actually relevant by turn 4 in most games, and the fact that you need to trigger the spark ability for this to even be remotely playable, makes me think this is just trash. I will give it the pity star on the grounds that I am missing something, but do not expect much of this card.

Torgov, Icecap Trader

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★★★★ When brewing Primal decks, there has been a common patter for me, I make it, realize that there is a big fat hole at 4, and then I go through the collection viewer, only to realize that there is nothing worth playing in Primal that is actually worth playing. Of course you are usually pairing with Time or Shadow, which have no shortage of 4 drops, but the fact that Primal finally has something exciting to play at 4 is really interesting. This seems particularly scary in some kind of tempo deck. Looking forward to testing this out!

Pearlescent  Drake

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★★★ The card that this is most often going to be compared to is Soulfire Drake. Having Charge and an entomb effect are outrageous upsides for a 5 drop, but I don’t feel that is fair. Not ever deck is going to have access to FFF. This is a PPP 5 drop that fits well as a top end card in a Primal aggro deck. 6/7 is a lot of stats on a 5 cost flyer. Nothing outrageous, but it can certainly fit as a 1 or 2 of in the right lists.

Skywalk Instructor

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★ This is easily the least powerful Skywalker I have encountered in my life. Though giving flying is a nice bonus, this is not the 5-drop you are looking for.

Swindle

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★★★ 5 cost draw 3 at slow speed without any additional restrictions would see a significant amount of play, but the fact that this relies on Spark means it fits a much more narrow band of decks. Still, this could easily be a role player in something like an Elysian or Hooru midrange deck. Certainly not something I am looking to jam in many decks, given that aggro is not interested in a 5 drop that doesn’t effect the board, and a control deck cannot trigger the spark consistently.

Watcher of the Big Ones

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★★★★ God I want this card to be good. 4/6 for 5 is fine but unexciting. It dies to many of the important removal spells, which is a really big deal. Still, I can imagine all sorts of curves where this just dominates. This into Nostrix? This into Leave a Witness? This seems good if the format is slow and midrange heavy, but could easily be pushed over by fast aggro. This is probably really a 3 star card, but I will give it the benefit of the doubt for now.

Boltcrafter Shaman

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★ Is there some sort of spell damage deck that I am missing? Ring your bell, play this guy, and turn your opponent’s board/face to ash? I feel like there might be something lurking to make a Skycrag control deck, but I am very skeptical that this is good enough for ranked.

Cirso’s Meddling

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★ This is like Cirso in that it costs a lot and makes pigs. It is unlike Cirso in most other ways. Way to inefficient for ranked.

Iceknuckle Jotun

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★ Jarrell’s Frostkin isn’t good enough for ranked, and this is much worse than that. Not interested.

Lumbering Gruan

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★ This is a dinosaur, which makes it interesting for some purposes. Most of those purposes are memes. I learned today that when this blocks, not only is it stunned, it doesn’t deal it’s damage in combat. Call me traditional, but I like my 6 drops to be able to block.

Adaptive Predator

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★ It really pains me to give such sweet dinosaurs so few stars. This is actually pretty close to interesting, but I have got to imagine that most decks have access to better 7 drops than this. In a world where Dinosaurs get more support I could see it doing something, but this is really just a big dumb body at the end of the day.

Ice Quake

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★ It is hard to imagine a universe where you want to play something like this. Are we lining this up with the +2 spell damage guy? I guess that is a curve? Just play Lightening Storm.

Skycrag

Champion of Fury

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★★★★★It seems like Skycrag has ended up to be almost totally aggressive, rather than a mix of aggro and control. Champion of Fury fits into that plan very well. Although a total workhorse, his influence requirements are steep, and he has no form of protection, and dies to basically any damage. That being said, Skycrag aggro looks to be one of the defining decks of the format, and this is a truly terrifying 2 drop, so I am going to dial this all the way up to 5 stars!

Kaleb’s Favor

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★★★★ This is far and away the best of the cycle of choices in my opinion. Almost every deck is going to have many desirable targets for a card like this. You really don’t want to draw this in multiples, but you can protect your units (or yourself) from Obelisks, Runhammers and Flameblasts alike. Very versatile, but the kind of card you want to play no more than 2 of in the average deck.

Rockslide

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★★★ Like Kaleb’s choice, this is a powerful modal spell, that fits particularly well in almost every Skycrag deck. This is like the ultimate modal spell for me, as it can be used in seemingly infinite combinations. One of my personal favorites is with Spell Damage effects, as you can get 4 damage out of this with a Cloudsnake Harrier in play. In a metagame defined by go-wide decks, this could be a great tool for getting ahead early on board. In more controlling decks this is usually going to feel worse than something like Lightning Storm, but it a wide range of uses. 1-2 of in most Skycrag decks I imagine.

Clan Hero

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★ Though this has an ability, it is too close to 3/3 for 3 with no ability. We can do better than this, such as…..

Vadius, Clan Hero

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★★★★★ Vadius is a fiend. Imagine being on the play and having a curve of Ronin into Champion (with charge) into Vadius into Groundbreaker? The influence is not trivial, but it is also not impossible! The Chakram ability is exceptionally fun, since it gives him a bonus, but also represents a long-term gain. Now your Champions of Fury become 8/2 charge overwhelm rather than 4/2!

Calderan Cradle

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★ I told you Primal had a theme of do-nothing relics, although I don’t think I said that this was centered in Skycrag – well, it is. As anyone knows who played in the event, it is very difficult to trigger this card consistently. I would love for someone to break this in half, but this just looks way to slow to matter.

Hunting Harpoon

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★★ Am I a sucker for these kinds of cards? Am I too greedy? If you are able to hook this up to a flyer and keep the air clear, this can take over the game, but so much can go wrong in the wrong match ups. I want this to be good, but this has gotta just be too fragile right?

Mortar

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★★★ Mortar is a worse Torch, but that is really not a fair comparison. This is one of the best damage spells outside of Torch at fast speed, and although this is conditional removal, the fact that you can go face makes the really interesting. I think this will be most popular in aggro decks as a result, but control decks will settle if they must, though unlikely in high numbers.

Storm Glider

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★ There is just better stuff out there. Hard to imagine many games where this is much better than the premier flyers in the format.

Towering Stranger

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★ This is a 7/7 overwhelm for 6. If you want big dumb idiots, why are you in Skycrag? I don’t even thing this is important in the Stranger deck because they are more interested in a low curve beatdown deck.

Knucklebones

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★★ The last of the meme-tacular relics. This one is very interesting though. Although I haven’t tested this card, I assume that it can transform your cards into power, though the probability is much less than what your opponent is going to be drawing. I feel like this is a finisher in a control deck where you get to 10 power or whatever, stabilize the board, and just play this as a finisher. If you are drawing 2 cards a turn to your opponent’s 1 it doesn’t matter what they are right? This is certainly closer to dank-tier, but I am kinda interested in building a Knucklebones deck one day.

Topas Drake

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★ There are better cards that cost less than this. This seems solid for a common, there are much better cards at higher rarities, like the one seen below!

Molot & Nokova

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★★★ My initial review of this card was that an 8/8 flying aegis would be a shade below the curve, but if we got enough Spark enablers for control this could make it. I feel like we didn’t quite get there, and M&N are just a little too slow. Still, in a metagame where an Icaria Blue like deck would excel, we might see M&N make an appearance, but I expect it will be rare.

Decimate

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★★ This seems like an interesting combo card. Eilyn and West Wind Herlad are both still legal in the format, and it feels like there might be a way to kill people with this. Another possibility might be using this as a finisher in Skycrag control, but that feels very fragile. 10 damage is a lot, but so is 10 power! One of my greatest concerns is the comparison to Flameblast. Yes it can be stopped by Aegis or Negate, but you can also cast that for any value that you want! Once again, the second star is based on some application that I am not considering, but this card will only be good in a very specific meta from what I can tell.


That’s all the Primal and Skycrag cards! If you haven’t had a chance, please go check out my Fire/Praxis, Time/Xenan and Justice/Hooru reviews. Also check my “Hot Takes for Filthy Netdeckers” if you are interested in finding something to play, and don’t know where to start. Anything I over or under valued? Let me know on Reddit! See you all tomorrow for my Primal/Skycrag review!

Love,

Neon

3 thoughts on “Constructed Review Part 4: Primal and Skycrag

  1. You skipped a card, and frankly it is possibly my favorite card in the set. Trailblaze. the primal part of the scry cycle, the scrycle, and in my opinion one of the best.

    Like

  2. Pingback: RNG Eternal

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