Looking at a Random Card: Crowd of Cinders
(What am I doing here? Read here!)
One last card to get this feature kicked off before I slow down to a more reasonable pace:
Crowd of Cinders: ANOTHER black creature? How is that possible? The random card feature of Gatherer wouldn’t be skewed temporarily because of the Innistrad release, right?
Well, after my last few entries tended to get longer and longer, I’ll try to keep this one a bit shorter: This one’s a blank in constructed, being way too unreliable and not even impressive when it’s working reasonably well. Also, since constructed is about having threats out or not most of the time, it’s kind of a win-more card (meaning it is only good when you don’t really need it).
In limited, it is useful in an environment with a color-matters theme – at least in Black – as well as in an environment which rewards largely sticking to a color – once again, at least for Black. These themes can, but don’t have to be interwoven: A color-matters theme will often be part of a multicolor environment, since multicolor cards will naturally help out several archetypes there, and also tend to make this theme more interesting in general. In such an environment, having fear is not quite as strong a boon, but less swingy, while in an environment encouraging a focus on one color per deck, fear is stronger on average, but more swingy (since it will almost mean being unblockable against many decks, but have little consequences against others). Note that in two-thirds-draft, it is unlikely that an environment focussing on single colors will support more than one drafter for each color, unless the number of available colors is reduced heavily, thus making fear on a black creature in these environments quite strong. Then again, a well designed environment of that kind will probably include many useful colorless cards (typically artifacts) to help colors deal with their weaknesses and help drafters fill out their decks, mitigating the swinginess of fear.
Crowd of Cinders is not exactly a flexible tool for cube designers, being an unexciting card in any environment without the two aforementioned themes. Luckily, those themes are quite broad and are likely to be used a lot in different Next Level Cubes. Its effect is quite basic and on a reasonable power level, being a great reward for being on-theme with your deck, and so the Crowd is a shoo-in a lot of times. It is also part of a 5-color-cycle of similar cards, all of which play fine, enabling you to integrate this cycle into your cubes (and cycles are fun!) Its creature type, elemental, is a bit of a missed opportunity, though, with elementals having few synergies in Black, but it is possible that tribal effects from another color benefit it. Its flavor feels a little forced, but no big deal. Overall, the Crowd is a fine limited card, but nothing more – a solid C.