Just an attempt at sparking some fun discussion :)!
Granted, it would be a consistent 1-of with the dubious title of "least bad Daggerfall Covenant mandatory tricolor card".
Sentinel Battlemace is a 4-cost cast that is arguably stronger than our
8 7-cost Covenant Masterpiece. The ward renders a majority of the HP bonus irrelevant and Battlemace provides more attacking power. I'd argue that for Warded creatures, +1 power trumps +2 health, though. It comes down earlier than even a 5-cost Masterpiece as well.
What are the selling points of Covenant Masterpiece?
1. Mobilize. Masterpiece can come down as an Imbued Breton, a 4/4 Ward. This flexibility is worth some magicka as we've seen with Ornamented Sword (however, 5 is a highly contested slot and the tempoloss of a 4/4Ward is higher than the 3/2Breakthrough).
2. Breakthrough. A double-edged sword, hard to value. I'd argue that in the mid-late stages the Breakthrough keyword becomes a small strength though. It's this stage, around the time Atronachs, Sowers and Giants hit the field, that you can start pushing damage through, and we're sitting right before the ever-dangerous Ringed Moose. However, there will be plenty of games where breaking that early rune will be a very difficult decision.
3. Regenerate. King of the useless keywords, especially as the Ward 90% of the time renders Regenerate useless (Regenerate, the keyword that itself 90% of the time is useless even if it somehow activates). It's a tiny boon to Covenant Masterpiece.
4. Guard. The second strongest keyword on the card. Guards coming down in the turns after Javelin and when all the main silences are active do lose a good deal of their value, however, the combination of features on this card does provide the potential to thoroughly lock down a lane. However, it is at this point we compare it to other T5 guards. I think the closest comparison is Phalanx Examplar, which is rarely a 3-of even in decks that utilize it well. Special mention goes to Throne Alligned, which has a surprisingly similar functionality.
5. Obviously, all these factors combined do provide a strong case for the card. It has a huge potential impact if the stars allign, because it's very flexible and a true Jack-of-all-trades card.
Naturally, Sentinel Battlemace is one of the strongest items in the game and definitely makes a good claim to Top5 Class cards. Covenant Masterpiece was printed at the expansion that ended the Dark Ages of TESL and the tricolor Goodstuff era, and like Masterpiece, most tricolor cards for the Alliances are not particularly powerful. Nevertheless I think Covenant Masterpiece is still brutally overcosted and even if 5 is too strong, there should be no problem even with 6.
All this being said, the Daggerfall Covenant doesn't have much of an identity, even three expansions into its existance. Therefore, I propose it gets some help with the next expansion. A focus on the Battle-mechanic and the Orc and Vampire tribals sound like excellent additions to the Covenant arsenal, giving it a very cool place in the game as a supreme late-Midrange class with aggression, tricks, interaction and recovery. MAKE IT HAPPEN SPARKERZ :)!
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