I had the opportunity to go to Boston this weekend and ‘gunsling’ at Rob Dougherty’s prerelease alongside Hall of Famers Darwin Kastle and Rob. I got to play in the first tournament of the day — with my opponents getting the bonus opportunity of taking a pack down for beating me — and then set up at the gunslinger station for a long, fun day of showdowns to protect Rob’s supply of Alara Reborn packs. On turn four of my first Alara Reborn match I got a close-up look at the madness that is Bloodbraid Elf when my opponent dropped one on me and got a free Jund Hackblade as the bonus spell.
I have yet to be on the right side of the red zone when Bloodbraid has hit play. I have also yet to win a game when one of these has hit play. I did draft one on the Beta the other day but it never came up in any of my games. Thus far my cascade experiences have been Enlisted Wurm and playing my opponent’s Kathari Remnant with my Sen’s Triplets into a Fleshbag Marauder. The highlights of the Wurm have been Sen’s Triplets and Nemesis of Reason while the lowlights have been Obelisk of Jund and Bone Splinters — cascade only covers not paying mana costs, sadly it does not account for additional costs such as sacrificing a creature.
Bloodbraid Elf is the clear winner in the cascade sweepstakes when you apply the mechanic to Constructed formats seeing as how it slots into a haste-driven beatdown strategy with Boggart Ram-Gang and the freshly minted Jund Hackblade providing extra sets of legs to rush the red zone off of a timely cascade. It seems fairly easy to bias your deck so that you hit nothing but creatures, burn, or additional cascade spells. The first two are clearly going to be part of many a Regionals deck but will Violent Outburst and/or Demonic Dread be joining them?
I have talked to a handful of local players preparing for Regionals and opinion has been divided on whether or not these cards are Constructed viable — although it seems much more likely that players will opt for the instant speed, damaging enhancing, Violent Outburst over the sorcery speed Demonic Dread. I had the option of playing both of these cards in my Sealed Deck pool from Boston and despite a pair of Terminates opted not to as I was not willing to bias my deck away from other 2-drops to guarantee myself a Terminate when I played one and while I think Constructed players will not face exactly the same dilemma I do think that they will find themselves constrained by deck space and the limited utility of the cards themselves.
Assuming an otherwise empty board for you, do you really want to hit Violent Outburst off of your Bloodbraid Elf? Even if you hit a Jund Hackblade off of the Outburst, you are only going to get one extra point of damage from it since the Bloodbraid Elf will still be waiting around to resolve as the last spell in line and won’t get any bonus. It does give you a chance to play a creature as an instant which is a definite plus but is that good enough to take up a precious slot in a Constructed deck? We only have to wait a couple more weeks until Regionals to find out.