Sorry for the delay, but it’s here and it’s ready to get serious! We’ve got all of the M11 cards I’m ready to include–and NOT include. Let’s go!
Status and Goals
First, view the new cube via Google Docs. The cube is now up to 602 cards.
Second, the cube is growing by ZERO cards this go-round. Yay! I’m happy that I resisted the urge to keep it growing.
In my last cube update for Rise of the Eldrazi I noted a few goals for my cube. Let’s see how they did:
Continuing Existing Themes – Check! This has worked very well so far. I’m really happy where my cube is right now in terms of archetypes and push/pull.
Lessen Blue Control – This is somewhat taking place. I feel like blue control is always going to be top tier in the cube unless you nerf the entire color, which is essentially the rub. Everyone likes drawing cards and controlling permanents, but you try to look for ways that WotC hated on these effects and emphasize them. One of the reasons I think Great Sable Stag will be in the cube for some time.
More Green Fixing, More Colorless Options – This one didn’t work very well. I added Trip Noose and Bottle Gnomes, both of which promptly left with this update. The fixing didn’t really stick, either. Joraga Treespeaker, while rocking ROE draft like nobody’s business, is not that great in the cube. Growth Spasm got out-Kodama’s Reached, as it were, by Cultivate, which replaced it. So there’s Awakening Zone that stuck, but colorless accel / chump blockers isn’t exactly “fixing” anything.
Design Goals for Scars of Mirrodin
Observe and Keep Track of Top Tier decks – While I have an idea of what’s Top Tier from countless cube drafts, I don’t actually keep track of any of this data. I think it’d be neat and would help influence decisions.
Look at the Power of Red: Red’s getting a little ridiculous as of late, and the mono-red drafter has been stomping pretty thoroughly lately. This goal will tie in with the first. There may be some red hate coming in soon.
Review Artifact Answers: This is where I think the influx of powerful artifacts from Scars of Mirrodin will need serious cube answers to boot. Note that Keldon Vandals made it over Manic Vandal from M11, but with the Scars of Mirrodin update I wouldn’t be surprised to see both. Wurmcoil Engine IS a card that needs an answer, as does Steel Hellkite, Myr Battlesphere, etc.
Let’s see what made it from M11:
Now, as a man who loves Captain of the Watch, this was a tough cut for me. I didn’t like it, but I like my six drops powerful and scary, and while Captain is plenty powerful, scary she isn’t. Just remove her and they’ve wasted their six drop in a few measly 1/1′s?
Sun Titan, of course, doesn’t need a whole lot of introduction but does do some amazing stuff in the cube. Allowing you to sacrifice things with wild abandon plus playing extremely well with Wrath of God effects, he’s a house. War Priest of Thune is of course an upgraded Monk Realist, now with a sweet optional “may” in his text. This is nice when your deck has Faith’s Fetters and the like.
So with this, we lost some crappy creatures (pretty much all of the drops were found to be bad after initial positive reviews). Mark of Eviction, while being a wonderfully open-ended card, isn’t enough in the long run when compared to the powerhouse spells surrounding it.
That said, the bar to get into the blue section of the cube is probably higher than any other. EVERY spell has to do something amazing or it’s just out. Preordain is, of course, one of those high watermark spells that is reaching into Vintage and seeing 4x play in Standard all over. Frost Titan is quickly being recognized as one of the best Titans (if not -the- best!) and is awesome in the cube.
As for the non-M11 additions and losses, Miscalculation is a card I’ve wanted in my cube for some time now, and it’s nice to get it officially in there. Inkwell Leviathan is there for the Tinker players out there. We need another sick blue fatty for both reanimation and Tinker decks.
So in this pretty straightforward: Grave Titan is the best black card printed in a long, long time (yet black still sucks these days– so sad), and Doom Blade is simply a staple Magic card and the new Terror. In zey go!
As for the tests, Dark Tutelage sucks (even Dark Confidant is sometimes hard to get rid of, and he’s the easiest to do in the cube), and Liliana’s Specter just isn’t powerful enough. Hypnotic Specter isn’t the most exciting duder, and this one is way, way worse than that rare.
The drops included Inquisition of Kozilek, who got sided out and blanked far too often. Kagemaro, First to Suffer is this weird creature where you want a fatty but usually only have a 2/2 or 3/3 and then by the time it gets impressive you have to sacrifice it to Wrath…yeah, awkward. Grave Titan is feel good 100% of the time, and I like that option much better.
Ah, Red. It is so good at what it does. Destroy, disrupt, burn, and Pillage. The fastest and most damage efficient creatures and the land destruction to back it up. It needs very little finesse.
Destructive Force is Wildfire #2 for my cube. All cubes have some form of redundant effect, and mine is no different (Ancestral Vision and Ancestral Recall, etc). Redundant effects allow you to influence what archetypes you find players building around. A big splashy effect like this one will drive a player down the road of fatties and control rather than the fast red that’s so dominant in my cube these days. We’ll see if another Wildfire helps.
So this is another big green move. Green is so hard to get right! You move stuff in, you move stuff out. Here’s what happened, first of all:
Krosan Tusker and Ant Queen were left off the rolls by mistake. So I actually had 77 Green cards for awhile. Oops. People asking me how in the world did I not have Krosan Tusker in the cube were right to do so–and it was thanks to a clerical error Now thanks to my cube audit, I’m able to keep track of each and everything I am running (expect it to get an update shortly after this one.)
That said, holy cow was M11 good to green cards. They juiced em up nice and sexy-like, and wow was the result amazing. Fauna Shaman is your second Survival of the Fittest (remember what I was saying about redundant effects just a few paragraphs ago?), Primeval Titan is, well, amazing. Obstinate Baloth goes a long way to halt the red deck’s dominance, but it still probably isn’t enough.
I dropped the controversial Growth Spasm for the much-adored Cultivate, another redundant effect via Kodama’s Reach that works very well in multiples. I also have a real love for Sylvan Ranger, as I want to really emphasize that green is the mana fixer in the cube.
The drops were many, but necessary. Mire Boa I think would be better in a larger a cube. Mine doesn’t have black being a force, and as such River Boa Islandwalking is about 300% better than Mire Boa‘s Swampwalking. Mycoloth just wouldn’t see any play, and when it did, you’d usually get blown out with a Wrath of God effect, losing your devoured creatures AND the Mycoloth. No fun, outcha go.
Pouncing Jaguar, man, Pouncing Jaguar. Wanted this card to be good just like I want Wild Dogs to be good but they’re just not. At least in this cube, red is the king of the early drops and if you’re looking at two drops and higher, Albino Troll is still a fine man that sees plenty of play. His smaller cousin, notsomuch.
Search for Tomorrow was a tough cut because I like this card. I like Suspend and I like how this card is a supercharged Rampant Growth but in the end I liked Cultivate far better. Moment’s Peace is a card that just doesn’t fit into the feel of green in my cube right now. If you’re Green/Blue, green is giving you the beatsticks. If you’re G/W, you’re probably not control. If you’re G/R I know you ain’t. If you’re G/B, you kill things you don’t fog up the board. If you’re mono green you don’t play this either. It had nowhere left to be played, and so it is not.
Lastly, Joraga Treespeaker may be a fine woman in constructed or ROE limited, but in this cube she’s Just Another Mana Dudette, and the Sol Ring like status she enjoys in Rise of the Eldrazi limited is not seen here. Not enough in this format.
Here is where I get to show the inverse of my love of redundant effects: Puppet Strings is a perfectly fine card that does what it does with efficiency. Trip Noose gives another tapper to control decks who didn’t need it, and doesn’t have the fun combo possibilities as Puppet Strings.
M11 sure does have some sweet artifacts, no? All of my inclusions made it, and I think they’re pretty self explanatory. Crystal Ball is a wonderful card for all sorts of decks, aggro or control. It provides reach when you really need it. Brittle Effigy has been stellar every time I play it early, as it keeps them from playing their best man until I use it, or late, when it saves my butt against some amazing creature.
Multicolor & Lands
There were no updates to either of these sections of the cube. Got a recommendation, I’m listening!
So that’s another update. I apologize for the lateness of this post, but hey, it’s here and the changes I’ve made I think have made my cube more balanced and most of all more fun. M11 has given some fantastic tools for new decks (Destructive Force), amazing creatures (Primeval Titan, Fauna Shaman), and great utility cards (Crystal Ball).
I for one look forward to now throwing in my Scars of Mirrodin purchases into the cube and seeing what sticks!
Here’s a sneak peek (not pictured: Steel Hellkite):
Until then, happy cubing!