Usually, my first impression of a new card is a pragmatic “is this good?” With Filigree Familiar, all I could do was stare with a stupid grin on my face.
Fortunately, that fuzzy, warm feeling left my chest (it was strange and uncomfortable), and I snapped back into cold analysis mode.
For starters, 3 mana for a 2/2 is not exciting, but we’ve seen some great “Grey Ogre” value creatures lately (Nissa, Vastwood Seer comes to mind).
“When Filigree Familiar enters the battlefield, you gain 2 life.”
This ability is kind of good.
Pure life gain is bad because it doesn’t give value. Unless your Nourish is trading with multiple Lava Spikes, it’s essentially card disadvantage. While gaining life isn’t fully useless, it doesn’t do anything to stem the bleeding, and whatever was threatening to kill you before is still threatening to do so afterwards.
Incidental life gain, on the other hand, is great because it tends to impact the board and further your game plan while also padding your life total. It’s not hard to see why a card like Lightning Helix or Thragtusk is much, much better than a flat life gain spell.
How the Standard format shapes out will determine exactly how good an extra 2 life is, but it’s a promising start.
“When Filigree Familiar dies, draw a card.”
This is like when your childhood pet dies and your parents take you out for sadness ice cream.
Drawing a card is great, but getting it up front would be a lot better than a “dies” trigger. This is why Elvish Visionary sees regular play and Palace Familiar doesn’t, even in sacrifice-based decks. I don’t think the difference is enough to tank the robo pup, but it’s important to keep in mind.
When compared with older 3-drops, Filigree Familiar is somewhere below Kitchen Finks (admittedly overpowered) and above Bottle Gnomes (made obsolete by power creep), but probably closer to the Bottle Gnomes side of things. Robo dog’s stats are such that it’s unlikely to become a format staple, but it has a few features that make it attractive for the right archetype.
Currently, value creatures are prized as sacrifice fodder for emerge decks. Pilgrim’s Eye makes for especially good fodder because it ups the artifact count, which matters for delirium. The fact that Filigree Familiar is also a 3-casting-cost artifact creature is huge, and means that it can essentially upgrade the Pilgrim’s slot in the emerge decks.
Which might explain why Owen’s so excited:
Strong words from a strong mage. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was some intended irony in the Thragtusk comparison, with the robo dog being so small and cute and Thragtusk being such an overpowered boogieman, but Owen did go on to confirm that he thought it was a substantial upgrade to Pilgrim’s Eye.
Of course, Owen wasn’t the only CFB contributor gushing about the card:
AE Marling, a Magic flavor text writer, gave a more aesthetic-based insight:
While the MTG Lexicology had some insight into the card’s name:
Cards rarely capture the imagination in so many ways, and on that level it’s a strong success.
As far as playability goes, I’m skeptical as to how much play it’ll see outside of emerge decks, but only time will tell on that front. For now, here’s an early stab at porting the archetype to the new Standard: