Oh man it’s been too long! We got ourselves two sets to add this time, and there is plenty of movers and shakers included.
View the Updated Google Doc (newly designed!)
Dozens of cards replaced, the cube got bigger by 30 cards or so, and all sorts of surprises are inside. Let’s talk cube!
So we begin with the white cards. For me, the shift to Gideon’s Lawkeeper, while cute, was short-lived. The small-yet-important synergy between Goldmeadow Harrier and Cloudgoat Ranger came up just enough to make me undo the switch last time.
The most surprising inclusion for White may be Cloudshift. Yes you can flashback Momentary Blink, but this card is far more powerful thanks to a single word. The phrasing on this card is incredibly important: You return the creature under your control. Not “owner’s” — YOURS. So if you have a creature under Control Magic and they Disenchant, you simply Cloudshift and keep the creature! (along with any sweet Enters the Battlefield bonuses!) Virtually any stealing/taking ability can benefit from this awesome and subtle benefit. This card is awesome.
As for the obvs, Lingering Souls obv obv obv. Card is ridiculous, has done lots of good work in Constructed and will continue to do so here in the cube. Loyal Cathar simply brings the beats. You need two drops in white aggro decks, and you need them to be resilient. He is both.
Silverblade Paladin is the first in a long line of Soulbond inclusions in the cube. This ability is SUPER powerful and if you haven’t played with it yet just wait–it gets real ugly real fast. Restoration Angel jumped into my cube the instant she was spoiled and is as good as you’d expect. Just value, value, value with that girl. Speaking of value, Angel of Jubilation is another in the “let’s make white aggro sweet” and hopefully even white weenie can get there with this sort of boost.
Our white miracles include the soul-crushing Entreat the Angels (probably my sickest foil pickup — $15 preorder!) and the Hallowed Burial with-an-upside Terminus. Pretty sure Terminus will be with us a while, but we’ll see. I like it a lot.
As for the rest fo the drops, Geist-Honored Monk is SO cute and basically already exists in my cube in the form of Cloudgoat Ranger. We don’t really need two (at least, I don’t). Lastly, Soltari Crusader is good, but Silverblade Paladin is way better And Divine Deflection? I’ve ran Shining Shoal before, and this is very similar. We’ll see how it plays out. I’m keeping a close eye on this spell.
So I think this is the first time I’ve ever cut a Planeswalker from my cube (I think)…and here I’ve cut two of them! Both have their issues. Let’s discuss:
Jace, Memory Adept – This card is not remotely fair in a limited environment. And this is from someone who has cubed for years with Moxen, Black Lotus, Sol Ring and Library of Alexandria. Not. Remotely. Fair.
Players will hate draft it out of spite, and everyone groans when it hits. It makes you feel ashamed for playing it, and it was a constructed card that should remain there. I don’t like to errata cards (ie some errata his ability to “Mill six” instead of ten or what have you), but I don’t feel this is correct. I know Sword of Body and Mind is -close- to being as unfair as this, but I’ve tried to engineer several answers to that card in every color, and artifacts are a hell of a lot easier to deal with than Planeswalkers. And Sword doesn’t mill you ten just for playing it. Bleh.
Jace was replaced with Tamiyo, the Moon Sage. I’m pretty sure this is just a straight upgrade in fun.
Tezzeret the Seeker – I wanted you to be so much better than you were. Time and time again I left you in the sideboard, and time and time again you didn’t do much. Now perhaps in other more artifact-laden/friendly cubes he still shines, but I don’t think this ‘walker has aged well at all.
Moving on, I think Deadeye Navigator is a hell of a lot more interesting and exciting than Sphinx of Jwar Isle. One does incredibly silly things immediately and long-term, and the other is a good finisher. Well, Blue has plenty of finishers and this still -is- a 5/5 for six mana. But holy cow does that ability shine. Again, soulbond is fantastic and you should be using and abusing it in your cubes too.
What can be said about Delver of Secrets that hasn’t been already? A development mistake, now a Constructed all-star, and certainly a card you can enjoy in the cube. Rawr. Upheaval is back because…why did I take this out again? Oh yeah, people not knowing how to draft it. If there’s one card that the MTGO Cube is responsible for, it’s this one returning like a champ. Silent Depature is just value, wonderful value, and U/W Tempo is a deck I like to encourage and provide the tools for. Plus, control decks like it too! (just not as much)
How good is Griselbrand? SO GOOD. Holy cow peeps, if you haven’t tasted the sweetness of drawing seven at instant speed for a mere seven life…it is sweet indeed. Hardcast like a boss or reanimate for value, this guy is the actual business. Get yours today
Let’s discuss these drops real quick. Grasp of Darkness ain’t no Tragic Slip. Just ain’t. And honestly, Grasp was not long for my cube anyway. I think I’d rather have Sudden Death. Mesmeric Fiend is a card I’ve loved for years, has been in the cube for absolute ages, and is finally making his exit. I LOVE THIS CARD. But nostalgia does not make it useful, nor does it make it powerful. As for Daggerclaw Imp, I like Demonic Taskmaster and Geralf’s Messenger WAY better than that guy. Far, far more.
So, Mr. Messenger and Mr. Taskmaster are beaters of the face variety, and is that Phyrexian Obliterator? You bet your ass! He’s large, in-charge, and doing some work. To help you cast those super mana-intensive spells, I added back in Dark Ritual. To give you another mana-intensive spell that I love (and can be drafted around), here’s Death Cloud. Resolving Death Cloud with a Planeswalker on board is SO FILTHY. In the very best of ways of course.
Lastly, Unburial Rites is obviously awesome. I wanted to add back in a reanimation spell to the cube, and it was provided.
Phew, what a bunch of changes. Let’s discuss some funny-looking ones first.
Stonewright is fantastic. There. I said it. If you aren’t running it, you’re probably wrong. NEVER has Firebreathing been this cheap, nor have tricks bouncing/blinking been as powerful. This powers up blue fliers, white evasive creatures, black beatsticks, etc. Card is sweet.
Dangerous Wager is pretty solid in a cube environment. Almost guaranteed to just draw two cards with no drawback, I dig it right now. We’ll see how it ages. Vexing Devil splits many down the middle, but you can’t argue it’s value. I featured Browbeat for a time in my cube, and as we know this is far better than that. Even as a super Lava Spike, I think this card has long legs in the cube.
Lighting Mauler I loved from first sight. SUCH a fantastic card with such a huge upside. Again, soulbond. Again, in this cube. Love that mechanic.
Wildfire needed back in my cube. I want G/R Ramp to have powerful sweepers, and while I at one time had both Wildfire AND Destructive Force in at the same time, I don’t think that much is necessary. One works though, and I’d rather go with the cheaper of the two. Let’s see… Faithless Looting is, apart from Lingering Souls, the best card in Dark Ascension. So yeah. I love me some red loots.
Hellrider and Archwing Dragon are simliar in the ‘surprise!’ factor, but do different things–one swarms, the other kills Planeswalkers and helps with the ‘reach problem’ of red decks and their vulnerability to sweeper effects. Thanks to evasion this is worlds better than Viashino Sandstalker, and I look forward to running this guy in and out of the battlefield often.
Thunderous Wrath and Bonfire of the Damned are my two miracle additions, and I expect them to be serious story-makers. Bonfire, of course, is still plenty playable for retail, but Wrath requires a little setup. Pretty sure RDW and U/R Counterburn will both love that card, and it’s variance swings make up for it in drama.
The last of the additions, Zealous Conscripts is a wonderful surprise from Avacyn Restored, giving an awesome Threaten ability on a very aggressively costed body (when combined with the ability, that is). Stealing ready-to-Ultimate Planeswalker is just living the dream, and other times you’re usually stealing a blocker and bashing face. And don’t forget the sweet Cloudshift interaction!
As for cuts, for Magus of the Moon he was both too bad (hurt your own manabase) or too powerful (provided too much edge for RDW) for my tastes. So out he goes. At least for now. Sulfur Elemental was cute as an uncounterable Balduvian Barbarians, but that doesn’t mean it should stay that way. Randomly hosing the White Weenie decks when Red Deck Wins was having no problems winning games was also something I didn’t want. Rolling Earthquake is no Bonfire of the Damned (in all kinds of ways).
I wanted Torch Fiend instead of Tin Street Hooligan. Puncture Blast felt like Rando Burn Spell #521, so out it went. Lastly, I wanted Rivalry to work, but damnit, those silly red enchantments just never do.
It’s hard out here for a Daybreak Ranger. I too thought the card had big potential…but as many cube drafts have shown, it just doesn’t have enough juicy targets, and the Fight ability isn’t always powerful enough to matter.
Spectral Force bows down to the awesome power of Wolfir Silverheart. That card is bonkers. Wolfir Avenger also does some good work, and yes, I did cut Wild Nacatl. No, I don’t feel bad about it. It SUPPOSED to be great, but it just never is. Naya is hard enough in the cube, and making her a turn 2 3/3 is so rare that when she does get to decent size later in the game, she’s far outclassed. Bleh.
Cutting Kodama of the North Tree hurt, not gonna lie. That guy’s been in the cube…basically since it’s inception. But dammit, Vorapede is a card, and does work. It’s scary, doesn’t have Shroud but enough resilience to be better in my eyes. Ulvenwald Tracker is really the Daybreak Ranger I wanted. Fight bear! Yeah! Mayor of Avabruck, as we know, can take over games single-handily, one of my favorite traits to a green monster (Jade Mage almost made it for the same reason), and with all these beats, I need Wordly Tutor back in here.
Primeval Titan just needs to exist here. Yes, he’s not as powerful as he could be, there’s no Valakut action in the cube (and thankfully so), but it’s Prime Time and he does good work with the lands he can/does find. And a 6/6 Trampler for six is just something I want/desire in my Green creatures right now. And without one, I feel I’m missing something. Somberwald Sage will help you run out that Titan or any other creature with a quickness, and I welcome Farseek back into the cube with open arms. Ravenous Baloth got sliced, another old school beater, but it’s just a worse version of Obstinate Baloth to me. And yes, I know all the arguments, but I’ve played with that clunky 4/4 for years. And when damage was on, it was good. And when damage was not, it was not as good.
Palladium Myr is just for ramp’s sake. I want a Go Big deck to thrive, and cards like that ensure you get the mana necessary for those overpowering spells. Lastly, I wanted another mana rock, and Sphere of the Suns is a goodie.
As for the drops, Silent Arbiter just didn’t do what I wanted him to do this go-round. Back in the day when the creatures were worse and spells were better, I found Silent Arbiter gummed up the ground sufficiently. But as creatures have gotten more powerful and featured better triggered/enter the battlefield abilities (sup, Hero of Bladehold?), this card is outclassed. Crystal Ball is too slow. That’s all I gotta say about that.
Grand Arbiter Augustin IV
Sigarda, Host of Herons
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
First, had to add big daddy Grand Arbiter Augustin IV back in. What can I say, I missed the guy. He does incredibly good work in the U/W control deck and is a force to be reckoned with. Welcome home!
Sigarda, Host of Herons is absurd. Pretty sure you know that, but I’m just letting you know if you didn’t. Absurd. Hope you got a wrath or something with Deathtouch.
Gisela, Blade of Goldnight is a fantastic card to splash for in U/W control (it only needs 1 red mana) and/or a fantastic reanimation target. She is fierce. Look out for this one. Sorin, Lord of Innistrad seems a bit yobv, doesn’t it? A powerful but not overpowered planeswalker in colors that needed one? I’ll take it!
Havengul Lich is a card U/B Control players die for, and is that the mofo’in The Mimeoplasm? Hell yeah! One of the bets reanimation targets evar, Build yourself a sicko Bant Ramp deck and watch the fireworks. Fun card!
As for my cuts, I just think Teferi’s Moat is a little -too- much. Now, I know, we have to be careful with Red Deck Wins, particularly in that I recently cut cards like Silver Knight out of my cube, but still. Card is dumb. Plumeveil has been a good, solid contender, but I’m happy with more interesting U/W options, preferably those that interact with the opponent through combat (ie not just blocking). Woolly Thoctar has gotten less and less impressive as the years have gone by. GTFO bro. Duergar Hedge-Mage was just…just…never quite good enough. He filled a role, his effect was super marginal and rarely impacting outside of destroying a few Swords here and there. Tidehollow Sculler was much the same as time went on–Mesmeric Fiend leaves us, and so does this card. Coincidence?
Lastly, Agony Warp was a weird card for me. I dislike giving U/B control a card that leads to ridiculous blowouts like this one can, and U/B aggro…? Yeah. Not really a thing, and not something I think needs this (if it exists).
So I guess the controversial card could be Academy Ruins here. Yes, I know Mindslaver lock blah blah. I know. And I know it’s cute to recur Engineered Explosives. But for me I’d much rather explore and try out different utility lands that archetypes are really clamoring for versus a cute interaction that doesn’t come up often.
As for Halimar Depths…do we really need to provide a better Island to blue decks? As for Barbarian Ring…Red Deck Wins doesn’t need this, and no one else wants it. I’d rather kick ass with Gavony Township, a card G/W really can appreciate, enjoy the power of R/W in Slayers’ Stronghold and watch U/R players giggle with Desolate Lighthouse shenanigans.
Phew! So that’s it! My god, almost 3,000 words, hundreds of hours of testing and thought, weekends of tweaks and updates. I’m sure you’ll let me know what you think in the forums, but as for this one, we’re done! See you guys when M13 is released!