I am unsure if this card will be good in the deck to be honest. I am sure it will be determined by the specifics of the build of BG Rock you are playing. However, it seems to run in contrast with some of the strengths of the deck. A big advantage that we have in aggressive matchups is that our manabase rarely does significant damage to us. In those matchups we often have to use every mana, every turn to stabilize. This could result in us losing 2-4 more health in the matchups where we draw it early.
Secondly, the BG Rock deck tends to be a very mana hungry deck. Between cracking clues and using our other utility lands I often find myself needing more mana. Sacrificing a land can be painful.
I may be the statistical outlier here as my build is very much designed to enhance Tireless tracker, but it should also be noted that it has less synergy with tracker than a normal fetch. 2 mana used, 1 land lost permanently, and one clue vs 1 life lost, 2 clues, and still 2 mana to draw a card.
I actually think the new fetchland that gets basics might be better for the deck. Being able to get our off color fetch out of the deck, while maintaining our ability to have 6 plus fetches, and still be able to get both colors off of fetch 5 and 6 seems ok.
It is possible I am dead wrong about this of course. The Horizon Canopy cycle are very powerful in a vacuum. I will certainly try it out to see but I would not be surprised if I am disappointed at how it plays out.
I went 5-0 at my local FNM this past week with this list.
Round 1 vs Elves (win 2-1)
Game 1 a turn 3 branchwalker allows me to find my third land (a treetop village) and stay on curve to win. It is worth noting that the 2/1 body got outclassed by my opponents pendelhaven. Game 2 is mostly irrelevant I was on the draw and a turn to slow to stabilize. Game 3 I have damnation in hand the entire game and never have to use it to win.
Round 2 vs Ad Naseum (win 2-0)
From the standpoint of the new cards this was uneventful. Game 1 I discarded his Lightning Storm and then he milled past his laboratory maniac. Game 2 I went up the curve with him discarding everything before he could play it when he did not have a leyline.
Round 3 vs Sultai Reclamation (win 2-0)
Both games pressure backed with discard got there. In game 2 my Ashiok locked him off of his mystical teachings and won me the game.
Round 4 vs Burn (win 2-0)
I think we are already very good against burn as I rarely lose this matchup. Having the surprise angle of Branchwalker allowed me to have more pressure quickly and also made the sideboard rest in peace he brought in look bad. (For the record I am already not in favor of siding that card in vs Rock as I would rather have a damage spell)
Round 5 vs Azorius Taking Turns (win 2-0)
Once again pressure plus discard got me there. I weathered his extra turn cards and focused on denying him card advantage in the matchup. Another 2 drop to begin the pressure helped as Scavenging ooze is not great in the matchup.
I was quite pleased with the Branchwalkers throughout the event. I never found myself wishing it was another card and several times it was helpful smoothing out my draws. It also gave me interesting lines in the removal heavy matchups where I could run him out into removal and save my better creatures for later. I will definitely be testing more with this card.
I was thinking about the games I tend to lose with GB Rock the other day. While some matchups are just not particularly great and are an uphill battle from the dice roll (Valakut), I noticed that I most often lose games through not being able to develop my mana base properly while needing to interact. After that realization I began to think about potential changes I could make to the deck to smooth it out. I was looking for something that could provide me land 3 when I got stuck on 2 or dig me closer to it so that I die less with unused resources in hand.
Two quick points:
1)I play with 0 Bobs and 4 Trackers
2) I am already at 25 lands
My first thought was considering BOB. However, I have don't currently like Bob in the format. He often dies without providing any value, his body is mostly irrelevant, and in the matchups where you are trying to develop and interact the life loss is often painful.
This line of thought got me considering merfolk branchwalker. He clearly helps with the problem that I am facing with my list. Pitching the Liliana you cannot cast or just straight up finding the land you need seems to be ideal. The extra point of power and toughness (when you don't find the land) makes trading more feasible, and he has synergy with both goyf and tireless tracker. On top of that he is another 2 drop that can be played early in the matchups where we need to be the aggressor that we can use to begin pressuring the life total.
My biggest concern with branchwalker is that the overall power level of the card is clearly lower or that the 3/2 body will not be a deterrent in enough matchups to be a bonus.
I tested some against my buddy playing humans the other day and the results were positive. Several times, I was very much hoping to have one to play out to propel me toward my 3rd or 4th land and the body often helped to gum up the ground and slow down an attack for a turn or two. This usually resulted in him before forced to extend further into my removal or the 2 sideboard sweepers I play. Obviously, further testing will be required.
If anyone is not afraid to think outside the box and decides to give it a go I would be interested to hear opinions of the results, or thoughts in general.