Looking at a Random Card: AEthersnipe
(What am I doing here? Read here!)
AEthersnipe: Okay, I didn’t really get the impression that this feature was missed by you when I put it on hold (mainly for RL reasons), but I’ll still continue it. With yet another creature, of course. Well, I guess randomness is truly random…
I really like the evoke mechanic. In its basic implementation, it essentially gives you the choice of a spell-like effect for a little mana or a creature in addition to that effect for more mana. Usually, when you pay the higher cost, you get a pretty good deal, while the evoke effect alone tends to be less exciting (Shriekmaw, which I consider too powerful, is an exception here). Still, if you always hold the card back until you can pay for the creature, your greed will end up costing you games. That is exactly the kind of skill-rewarding card I appreciate!
From a next level cube designer’s point of view, creatures with evoke are extra useful for a number of reasons: They present you with variations of basic effects which feel and play noticeably different from the standard cards. They allow you to get extra spell-like effects into a very creature-heavy environment. They offer a large number of possible interactions with certain mechanical themes involving dying creatures and cards in the graveyard, but also high-costed cards or creatures.
AEthersnipe is an excellent representative for this mechanic. It is simple and elegant, providing a basic and useful effect, and it is satisfying without being overpowered when paid for fully. Like all evoke creatures, it has the creature type elemental, which sadly doesn’t get tribal support in its color (that is all in Red), but since Blue and Red are the colors of the elements, it makes sense to expand that tribe into Blue in a cube, so I’ll count its creature type as useful. It isn’t strong enough for constructed, but that’s fine with me, since it is hard to balance out being useful in constructed and not being overpowered in limited (Briarhorn was just barely good enough as a fringe card for constructed, and Mulldrifter is really pushing it in limited). Also, AEthersnipe is not THAT far away from constructed viability – a real good blue elemental tribal card, or maybe a blue deck based on an effect unearthing creatures from its graveyard for a turn, may be all it takes that it finds its way even into competitive standard decks (well, obviously it also must be reprinted to be legal). There’s just one little thing I don’t like about this card, and it’s mostly aesthetical: I don’t understand why its mana cost only includes one blue mana, while its evoke cost includes two (probably the right call here). Then again, the card has really cool, beautiful artwork!
Just falling short of being a constructed-level card prevents it from getting an A, but I gladly hand out a B+ here!