The biggest cube change in years. I know I say that often, but this time, let’s get some stats:
Over 100 cards dropped!
EVERY color now 10 cards smaller!
HUGE sea changes in multiple colors, strategies abandoned, strategies reborn!
View the new cube list on Google Docs.
So let’s start with the goals from our Scars of Mirrodin additions:
Blue Control Must Die – We’ve got almost an entire new color (Black), we’ve got plenty of streamlining of Red and Green (colors that should give Blue the most difficulty), and I’m made multiple cuts and adjustments to the color Blue itself. Preliminary results are good.
Lower the entire CMC of the Cube - I think I did this, particularly in Black. I don’t calculate this myself, but I’ll throw this into a deck builder script and get some hard data.
Make Green Matter/Better – With 19 drops and nine brand new additions, I think I’ve made Green stronger, slimmer, but more effective. By moving them into a very creature-dependent mana ramp, I lower the converted mana cost of the color while also making them more focused at what the color is supposed to do–have scarier monsters and better acceleration than any other color.
So with those goals in mind, what do I have in mind after these changes?
Make Black Completely Different – Yes, that IS the removal of a lot of Reanimation spells and tools. The fact is, you can have Reanimator elements in your cube, but if no one is actually playing those reanimation spells, the goal is lost. Black has just been the worse half of U/x Control, so I want to really push the aggro element. I brought back cards like Stupor and I lowered the mana curve of the threats available to you. I hope this will give the color the aggro element (along with higher CMC stuff for the control decks to use) to make it dynamic and used by both types of decks, instead of just one.
Provide a new Cube Experience – Change is good. It’s time I threw out some old and brought in some new. TONS of cards left me with this update, and I’m looking to change up what the Cube is to me week-in and week-out. With some sacred cows killed (Doran, the Siege Tower), and some crappy cards finally put out to pasture (gg Molten Disaster), I think the Cube now feels fresh and different.
Look To Others For Guidance & Changes – The fact is, I’m very busy. I got one night a week for cubing, and that’s all of the data I can gather. But there are plenty out there talking about cube, from Usman Jamil on StarCityGames.com, to the awesome forums right here on this site to other forums out on the web. Hundreds of hours of playtesting I’m not putting in, and that’s why I’m taking others suggestions and posts at a much higher regard these days.
So with that said, let’s go:
Pulse of the Fields
Return To Dust
Blade of the Sixth Pride
Knight of the White Orchid
Wall of Reverence
Iona, Shield of Emeria
Okay, where do we being? First, let’s just saying the lack of Stoneforge Mystic to my cube is a long, sad tale that should’ve been rectified when the card debuted (when I debated adding it and decided it ‘wasn’t good enough yet’…argh). I actually love the card Catastrophe and I’m very excited to see it in my cube now.
Other cards fill small rolls. Mirran Crusader is just ridiculous with equipment, stops a variety of powerful strategies, and has great and unique protection from colors. Bread-and-butter cards like Goldmeadow Harrier and Temporal Isolation I think will be welcome. White Sun’s Zenith gets no love but will be a control player’s best friend.
Into the Roil
Rite of Replication
So here we go with more sea changes. Blue loses some things, gains some things, and becomes even more of a sharp and deadly weapon (gulp–but hey, it IS the best color). Cards like Sunder looked totally sweet but didn’t work out, while the old classic Upheaval is missed. Opposition is a key card in U/G strategies and needs to exist. The entire Brine Elemental/Fathom Seer “Pickles Combo” (with Vesuvan Shapeshifter) is cute, but never actually came together. No seriously–in the past three years, I can’t remember it being put together beyond that one time when it first came out and everyone was anxious to try it. So…yeah, g’bye.
Jushi Apprentice is a card I adore–but it was just SO BAD on the battlefield. The blue decks NEVER want to use Jushi’s ability versus counting a spell or drawing cards with other, more efficient, spells and abilities. It was SO frustrating to see him just do nothing game after game after game. Finally I must remove him. Master Transmuter was a bad idea. ‘Nuff said.
Legacy’s Allure was always a turn or two too slow for me. Unfortunate but true. My final cuts were Body Double (no Mirror Entity = no infinite combo…and when it was in the cube, it was almost impossible to assemble) and Gifts Ungiven. I know, Gifts is insane etc, but part of these changes is trying new things. I’m not getting rid of my copy of the card or anything, but for now it’s off the official list I’m playing.
As for the additions, I’ve got big hopes for Phyrexian Metamorph (who looks insane), I’m happy to welcome Spell Pierce to the family, Desertion returns after a LONG hiatus, and is that Consecrated Sphinx? You bet it is
Bane of the Living
Ob Nixilis, the Fallen
Visara the Dreadful
Knight of Stromgald
Skithiryx, the Blight Dragon
Go For the Throat
Black Sun’s Zenith
Sheoldred, Whispering One
Gatekeeper of Malakir
So. Now. Bout this. We have ourselves the largest change to the color black in the history of my cube. And I mean ever. This represents the removal of a huge Reanimator strategy and the inclusion of a pure aggro element.
Only card I’m iffy on removing: Withered Wretch. Still a bear, and does fix graveyard annoyances. Otherwise, let’s kill some sacred cows!
How bout that Stinkweed Imp cut? This card has been in my cube from the very beginning. What deck wants this card? Control. Aggro decks don’t want this, they want something to deal damage. This is a wall. It’s a wall that stops players from attacking. I’ve made an active decision to remove a few walls from the equation (like Wall of Reverence in White), and here is another. Stinkeweed Imp is an annoying wall, and it had to go.
Cards like Daggerclaw Imp are very straightforward. You know what you’re in for. You see what you got. Nezumi Cutthroat is in a deck that wants to kill you as fast as possible. The 3/3 for twos like Wretched Anurid and Blind Creeper work in conjunction with burn and edict effects (along with pure removal like Go For the Throat) to stomp you before you get started.
One of the things I’m curious about is if there are enough edict effects. There are plenty more to choose from (including the just-printed Geth’s Verdict).
Anyway, Dark Confidant has been in my cube for awhile but he’s officially joining the list; Sheoldred, Whispering One IS ridiculous when you untap with her or return her to play in anyway. Stupor is a card that follows up Hymn to Tourach in a 1-2 punch way that few decks can overcome.
Jaya Ballard, Task Mage
Kumano, Master Yamabushi
Dead / Gone
Genju of the Spires
Rack and Ruin
Beacon of Destruction
Yes, that is the introduction of silver-bordered cards to my cube! I’m excited to get my fun on, with Frazzled Editor quite a house at times when you think about it, and good ole beatdown cards like Fireslinger and Ghitu Slinger returning to the color.
I’m sure you have to mouseover Rivalry. Yeah, that card is sweet. I love what that card does, represents, and how it punishes players in exactly the right way. This one is courtesy of Kenny Mayer, whose cube I really like and take a lot of inspiration from (find it here). I’ve cubed with Kenny many, many times, and we think alike on many aspects of this magical format.
Moving on, is that Stone Rain? Yes, Stone Rain! I’ve begun to realize that much of the power of Red is in its ability to stop you from developing your gameplan. When it’s not attacking or burning, it’s destroying your artifacts or lands. The ability to keep you off your 4+ mana spells is often crucial for Jackal Pups to get there.
As for the drops, they’re almost universally expensive spells that I felt weren’t crucial. I’m not a 100% on Rorix Bladewing (I’m not selling it off just yet or anything, just removing it from the list / format for now), but I’m happy with the rest of the cuts. It’s time to trim the fat and get to business.
Iwamori, of the Open Fist
So I’ve cut a LOT of chaff out of Green. I’m still not sure if I’ve provided enough early game beats (ie I may need to re-add Mire Boa and cards like Pouncing Jaguar), but I do want the focus for Green to be creature-based acceleration and big plays as a result. Cutting personal faves like Lignify, if that’s what it takes, that’s what I’ll do. Other cards that I liked that just weren’t powerful enough (Bestial Menace) will have to sit back for awhile and see how these changes affect this color moving forward.
Artifacts / Colorless
Yup — I actually added five cards to the Artifact/Colorless section. This includes the Swords, cards that took time to prove awesome like Tumble Magnet, sweet rares like Spellskite, and old favorites like Ankh of Mishra. Meanwhile, I got my Living Weapon groove on with Lashwrithe to help fuel the mono black and black-based aggro decks, and Ring of Gix is a necessary Icy Manipulator card I needed in the cube.
As for the drops, yes, I killed another sacred cow. I hate to say it, but Masticore is just not good enough anymore for my list. The two new versions? They’re great, and will remain so for some time. But the original has slowly but surely been outclassed. Nowadays I want my regenerating 4/4′s to be Hexproof and so on.
Doran, the Siege Tower
Call the Skybreaker
Rafiq of the Many
Yup, another huge sea change: For the first time since I’ve had a cube, the multicolor components are imbalanced. I’m ready to give the idea of ‘some combinations just have better cards / interactions’ than others. I’m tired of substandard U/G cards (looking at YOU Lorescale Coatl), R/W cards and so on. Sacred Cows like Doran, the Siege Tower may be cute and look powerful, but they’re not. It’s a three mana 5/5 that’s VERY hard to cast, it’s not in a format that can utilize it fully (like Lorwyn draft/sealed could), and it usually becomes a ‘virtual’ 5 or 6 drop because of it’s tough mana cost. Then you wait until Turn 5 or 6 to play a 5/5. And so on.
Regardless, cards that did little (Firemane Angel) or were just too narrow (Rafiq of the Many) don’t need to clog up our drafts and fill our sideboards with unplayables. We need cards that fill roles.
Which brings me to my only additions – Shambling Remains and Glissa, the Traitor. If you’re R/G or R/B, I want you to be scary. Remains guy does what those colors are now geared to do best. I trust it will come through. Glissa provides slow, incremental advantage, perfect for the G/B Rock deck.
No Changes. Pretty happy with my lands right now.
So here it is! It took a little too long to get here, but it’s here. The cube is now fitter, trimmer, and a new experience. I’ve gotten rid of some roadblocks, I’ve given new direction to colors and strategies that needed it, and I killed a TON of sacred cows. My cube is now down to a svelte 580 cards. Yay
Now it’s time to play, and figure out where to go from here. The Cube is your chance (and mine) to be the designer and developer of a format. This is my format, and it’s where I push what I want the colors to do and how they best interact. I trust these changes will make the cube the most balanced and fun format Magic can offer. I trust your own changes (and inclusions) will do the same for you and your playgroup.
Until next time, where we’ll go over M12!
- Evan “misterorange” Erwin