It's definitely a card that plays a lot better than it looks, and I'd recommend anyone supporting a graveyard-matters theme to test it out as it fits the bill of being both an enabler and a payoff for the archetype.
Five toughness is massive, especially in black. Just because the Grub may start as a 2/5 or 3/5 doesn't mean it will stay that size. It blocks incredibly well until you're ready to turn the corner and by that time it has usually grown larger.
Been meaning to write-up another set review for a while and, wow, what a set we have here. WotC really allowed themselves to push the uncommons in Commander Legends both from a design and a power level standpoint, and Peasant cubers are a big beneficiary.
Stable/Solid Slaughter the Strong - Not the best white wrath we could have gotten, but it’s the best we’ve got right now. This seems like a slam dunk for every Peasant cube that is interested in supporting slower white decks, simply on the merit of being a completely unique effect. Currently there are very few ways to get punished for dumping an entire hand of creatures onto the battlefield, so I think having access to cards like Slaughter are generally good for a format.
Merchant Raiders - I’m evaluating this (and similar pirate-triggering cards) assuming no bonus Pirate synergy and this one still seems really, really good. It is effectively Fairgrounds Warden (a comparison I look at favorably) in a color which has little access to creature removal, and the Raiders are even less susceptible to blowout situations (opponents don’t get ETBs, no shenanigans mid-combat). If you can get any incidental pirate triggers the card becomes nuts. A relevant body means additional tension in deciding if blocks are worth running into combat tricks and losing your 'snare'.
Gilt-Leaf Winnower - As with others, I’ve trimmed out all removal with the “non-black” clause which has left somewhat of a dearth of Nekrataal-style cards. The Winnower won’t always answer the threat you need it to, but it shouldn’t be difficult to find something to target and make this a reliable 2-for-1. The base body is also very relevant and menace is just a great keyword. Feast of Succession - The card that is going to compel to me break from my aversion to Monarch, and it seems I'm not alone. I feel that Monarch is a fantastic mechanic in multiplayer, but for 1v1 it has two main issues 1) it completely warps the gameplay decisions from the point it’s played and 2) is the oft mentioned “snowballing” problem where the Monarch can completely dominate a player that has stumbled out the gate. All that being said, this type of game-warping effect is much more palatable on a 6-mana sorcery than on, say… a three mana removal spell *cough*. And since Feast has a spell effect that we have been desperately needing in Peasant, I’ll be running this until we finally get our Languish downshift.
Quick shoutout to Carrion Grub, one of the few black creatures that survives Feast and has just generally been an solid performer. I don’t think it got enough love when M21 first rolled through.
Toggo, Goblin Weaponsmith - In addition to being absolutely hilarious, this card looks like a ton of fun to play with. It’s not quite simple enough to say that this has “Landfall: draw 2: Shock” as the tap requirement is a real cost, but it’s pretty close to that. Fortunately, Toggo can sling rocks around himself so it’s a pretty reasonable base case to assume that’s what he’ll be doing on most turns. There are so many little interactions possible from just this one card, I kind of can’t believe this was printed at uncommon. Probably my favorite card from the set and I suspect I’ll be finding unique lines of play with Toggo for years to come. Breeches, Brazen Plunderer - Another effect I’m somewhat surprised, but very pleased, to see at uncommon. This has to be the best card-advantage-on-hit creature in red we have access to, especially considering it has built-in evasion. Spinning the wheel on an impulse draw is already exciting, but impulse draws from your opponent's deck sounds like a blast. There’s really no comparable effect that exists at 4-mana currently in red, so I expect Breeches to be a big addition in red midrange strategies. Volcanic Torrent - Speaking of red midrange, this card seems insane. I had to read it a couple times because I couldn’t believe it only affected your opponents stuff. A one-sided pyroclasm for 4R would already be decent, but tacking on cascade means this is going to represent a massive swing on most board states. I’m always looking for more playable sweepers, and this goes way beyond playable.
Halana, Kessig Ranger - Much has been said since this was one of earliest spoiled cards, but I think it looks like a slam dunk. I am a big fan of main-deckable reach creatures to help shore up green’s biggest weakness. Halana has a very solid base body, and while the triggered ability is a little costly the fact that the fight is one-sided puts this over the top.
Cubable/Borderline Prava of the Steel Legion - An archetype card, but it’s an archetype that basically every cube runs which might push this higher in the rankings. Prava should make it into more decks than something like Intangible Virtue (strong but narrow), because it doesn’t require as much of a critical mass of tokens to justify a deck slot. I’m always a big fan of cards that are both an enabler and a payoff for a given archetype and this fits the bill. Alharu, Solemn Ritualist - Another archetype card, primarily for +1/+1 counters but also small cross synergies with tokens, flicker, and sacrifice. There’s enough going on for this to belong in the conversation with Elite Scaleguard / Basri's Acolyte (Relief Captain surprisingly being a step below Acolyte in my testing), and I should have room to test Alharu as well.
Malcolm, Keen-Eyed Navigator - One of many Wind Drake+ variants that have been printed lately, and I think this one gets there. Plays well in any sort of U/x tempo deck, as well as UW fliers and UG ramp. We haven’t had access to this type of repeatable Treasure generation before, making it somewhat hard to evaluate, but thinking about how well Treasures should play alongside counterspells makes me like Malcolm even more. Daring Saboteur - Speaking of U/x tempo, here is a very welcome downshift. Seems like this checks enough boxes (good on curve, good on a stalled board, trades well in a pinch) to have a pretty solid average case, especially since blue two-drops aren’t exactly stacked.
Coastline Marauders - I would have been much more excited about this card if we hadn’t just gotten Skyclave Geopede one set ago. They fill a similar role but function differently enough that I should have room to run both. Geopede can actually trade reasonably as a blocker, but the Marauders have higher upside and Encore is definitely relevant. Frenzied Saddlebrute - I wasn’t completely sold on this card until I heard it compared to Urabrask the Hidden. Yes, the opponents-creatures-enter-tapped clause is a very significant part of Urabrask, but the Saddlebrute is easier to cast, has one more power… and it’s an uncommon! As a curve-topper you’d clearly rather be casting Charging Monstrosaur, but if you aren't necessarily expecting the game to end when you land your 5-drop (R/G midrange, any R/x control shell) this represents a threat that must be dealt with. Dargo, the Shipwrecker - Obviously should play great in the sacrifice deck, but Dargo has enough small interactions going on that I expect him to be playable outside of the dedicated archetype. Seven power of trample will end the game fast, and the ability to cheat on mana should never be overlooked. Excited to run this in a deck with Kazuul's Fury.
Juri, Master of the Revue - A very solid payoff to the Rakdos sacrifice archetype, with some obvious synergy going on between her two abilities and some less obvious ones as well (+1/+1 counters matter, other ways to modify power). Juri needs to reliably get at least one counter, as her floor is pretty poor, but in the right deck she can get out of control fast. Reyav, Master Smith - Probably the best aura/equipment matters payoff we’ve seen in Boros, and a fun way to spice up the guild beyond the more common go-wide archetype. Similar to Juri but with a better floor, if you can reliably get at least one double-strike trigger Reyav should have earned his keep, and beyond that he starts to look really impressive. Araumi of the Dead Tide - I dislike how much more text needed to be on this card to template it for multiplayer, but the effect is unique and certainly can be powerful in the right circumstances. It’s awkward that Araumi has great blocking stats but you have to use its tap ability on your turn, and most creatures without an ETB or death trigger are not going to be worth the mana investment. I’ll be testing this but my expectations are fairly muted. Thalisse, Reverent Medium - I seem to be higher on this card than most, which probably due to the fact that my Orzhov archetypes are among the least defined in my cube. I’ve been pushing support for tokens primarily in the Mardu colors, while trying to find ways to keep the Orzhov style of tokens distinct from Rakdos Sacrifice and Boros Go-Wide style. Thalisse helps push the idea of Orzhov as most of a value-oriented token strategy, with the goal to slow the game down and overwhelm with value from your token generators. I’m hoping a good comparison will be Tatyova, another understated gold 5-drop, but one that can generate an insane amount of value if it stays alive.
Interesting design. While it’s strictly worse than any given colored bounceland, it is much easier to break into a colorless cube slot than a guild cube slot. Plays very well with the recent addition of the excellent MDFC lands, and gives every color potential access to the fun trick of bouncing them back to your hand.
Fringe Tormod, the Desecrator
I've come down on this a lot from when it was initially spoiled. There’s too many things that need to go right and the upsides don’t make up for the fail cases. If the base body was better I think this could have found a home, but a 4/2 that you’re playing primarily for the triggered ability is effectively never going to get into combat and that’s not good enough for a 4-drop. Nadier, Agent of the Duskenel
One of many cards that are sadly one mana too expensive. I can imagine some magical-christmas-land scenarios in an aristocrats deck, but at the end of the day it’s a 6-mana 3/3 with no immediate impact on the board.
Hamza, Guardian of Arashin
So you’ve already jumped through the hoops of getting multiple creatures in play with +1/+1 counters, and the big payoff is… a discounted vanilla 5/5 which lets me flood the board with even more creatures? Mana reduction abilities are always worth looking at, but this just seems like the definition of “win more”. Imoti, Celebrant of Bounty
Even the heaviest ramp decks are only going to be running a handful of 6CMC+ cards. Unless your format is exceptionally slow, this seem like a non-starter. Kangee, Sky Warden
Azorius is already really tight, and I can’t see this beating out Migratory Route at 5CMC or Empyrean Eagle as a flyers support card.
Fall from Favor
Not personally interested in this for my format, but if you are evaluating strictly on power-level this has to be mentioned.
Woah that turned out to be a lot of words, so here's just a few more. Red midrange seems to be the biggest winner by far, but white and black get huge additions in the form of much neededsweepers. And while I initially discounted the idea of multiple pirate triggers, it's not too crazy to think that Malcolm and Breeches could be the beginning of a fun sub-archetype in Izzet. Overall a big win for Peasant cubes, both in the form of interesting / unique effects to play with but also a promising sign of what WotC is willing to print at lower rarities (even if we have to wait for supplemental sets for the splashiest effects).