It’s here, and it’s bigger and badder than ever. The multitude of changes include adding even MORE fatties, adding the mana and adding the fun.
Check out the official Gatecrash Cube Google Doc!
The cube is now up to 669 cards, including 86 of each color, 80 colorless cards, 79 Multicolor, and 70 Land cards.
Ready to discuss the changes? Let’s go!
White’s focus is hardcore control and hardcore aggro. Tools to answer all the things, and weenies that remain versatile and tough to deal with.
In this update, we say goodbye to a card that has been in the cube since the very beginning: Savannah Lions. Ugh. It pains me to do so, because Savannah Lions is one of my all-time favorite Magic cards. Seriously. But I think this painful decision reflects many of the choices you’ll read about today: I’m seasoning my colors to taste and trying to give a clear direction that archetypes and color combinations can take the most advantage of.
Specifically re: Savannah Lions, G/W has a sixth creature in the Multicolor section in the form of Dryad Militant. A “strictly better” card in every sense, but most importantly it pairs up with Champion of the Parish, a card that I need to have other Human help to ensure he remains powerful. And picking Savannah Lions over Dryad Militant because of some arbitrary design constraint is actually bad design. So, it sucks, but here we are.
Another that has shifted in and out of the cube: Cataclysm. It has it’s lovers and its haters, I’ve seen it be amazing and be terrible. Probably not the last we’ve seen of such a powerful card.
It took quite a few years, but Serra Avenger is just not exciting any longer. R&D at the time of her development was sure it was a format-defining all-star, but it was not to be. Unfortunately a 3/3 flying Vigilance creature with a hold-up was just not good enough. Emeria Angel is another one on the fence for me, a card that you could argue has her place, but I think I’ve replaced her with some pretty sweet ones. Lastly we have the hate bear duo of War Priest of Thune (just too narrow), and Grand Absolisher. The latter, in particular, was a super cool card that disrupted many a’ control deck, but it’s small body meant that any Wall of Denial (or even Wall of Omens) defenses would stop it cold. Put that ability on a 4/4, or a flying 3/4, and we’ll talk.
As for the additions, I love how Blind Obedience is seen in control and aggro decks, I mentioned Champion of the Parish but he goes along with Accorder Paladin, Precinct Captain, Ranger of Eos and Frontline Medic. You could say that Academy Rector has something to do with Champion of the Parish, but honestly, it’s just an oversight. This is an incredibly powerful card that does a variety of things. I’m a little sad that it took so long for ole Rector here to make her way in, but needless to say she’s been unreal.
Soltari Trooper and Soltari Champion both continue along the strong aggro theme, and sometimes you need both Honor of the Pure and Glorious Anthem to give them enough boosts to push things over the top.
Blue is focused on control and tempo. It’s spells are some of the most powerful in Magic, and it’s lopsided Spell/Creature ratio enforces this.
My buddy Matt would absolutely murder me if he knew I was taking out Aeon Chronicler, but let’s be real: it’s just not that exciting anymore. Part of what you do in cube design is determine what effects are fun, what effects are okay, and what effects you trade in for losing the card in question. For me, I like the aggro angles of the additions here, and I definitely like the spells. Aeon Chronicler is a darling of mine (another is Keiga, the Tide Star), but when we get to brutal cuts, this one was left off the list.
I dropped Miscalculation because, as time has shown, Memory Lapse is a better card. Show and Tell is here thanks to all the sweet fatties I’ll get to later. Sakashima’s Student is a card for the U/G and U/W tempo or aggro decks, who need a tricksy card like this to get there in the late game. Oh, nice Grave Titan, I’ll get in with my Pestermite and oops, I Cloned it.
Trinket Mage is a card that just fits really nicely into a bunch of archetypes, aggro, tempo and control alike. This addition was a request from my local playgroup, who universally missed it.
Speaking of aggro and tempo, I loved Tandem Lookout almost as much as cube player could (or should), but it was a pet card, and it was time to let it go. I took out Calcite Snapper for the same reasons I’d taken it out in the past: It was either too oppressive for the aggro decks to get through or not good enough to maindeck. Swapping this out with any of my additions seems correct.
Black is about control and aggro, often a supporting color in any aggro aspect. But for control, this is the one color that can truly be ran on its own to great success.
Okay, so another Cube Original fell by the wayside: Nezumi Shortfang. Simply put, paying 2BB for making them discard one card…and waiting a whole turn to even invest that much mana all for a single card…on a 1/1…well, let’s just say I’ve probably kept him in a bit longer than I should have. While his brother Nezumi Graverobber is still a fine card, this one is not.
Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief is Yet Another Five Drop in a sea of them. And what usually happens is that she’s on the sidelines or her ability is rarely activated. And as I think you can see with the addition of Pox, Smallpox and Braids, Cabal Minion is that I definitely want mono black to be a powerful archetype in the cube. It was already a fine one, but I really want to strengthen and entice at least one drafter into each time. And I felt that Ob Nixilis, the Fallen is a better way to do that than Drana, Kalastria Bloodchief.
Graveborn Muse is ultimately not as powerful as Braids, Cabal Minion. Was always a bit of an underperformer. Demonic Taskmaster just has not been working out. It’s ability just fights against any advantage you may gain (they have no more creatures! Let’s push the advantage! Oh wait…I have Taskmaster and can’t play anything).
Stupor and Blind Creeper aren’t as powerful as Smallpox or Gravecrawler. And Stromgald Crusader? Getcha self back in the game, son! An excellent aggro creature, another weapon for mono black and B/W aggro strategies. Lastly, Yawgmoth’s Will let’s the guy playing the Durdle Deck have fun. And I’m all about that.
Carrion Feeder is a sweet sac outlet for those who enjoy the infinite combo (such as Carrion Feeder, Kitchen Finks and Master Biomancer, a thing that has happened), and Undercity Informer is a way for Black-based aggro strategies to have reach after they’ve gotten shut down by walls or other monsters. It’s a pretty awesome attrition card, particularly with a token producer like Bitterblossom or even a token-maker like Cloudgoat Ranger.
The most aggressive color, but with enough big spells to pair with a ramp deck, and enough burn spells for the control decks to take notice.
Woot, look at all those cool additions. But let’s talk drops first: Hound of Griselbrand is powerful and all, but after quite a few drafts really felt like a minor league card. Ball Lightning is, honestly, just not necessary anymore. With so many incredible aggressive creatures, with far easier casting costs and far higher upsides, ole’ Lightning here is too much in a lot of ways.
Goblin Wardriver‘s mana cost is just not necessary. Arguably worse than Kruin Striker because committing a bunch of creatures to take advantage of his bonus usually gets you wrathed out of existence. Archwing Dragon is another cool-and-all-but-not-really-necessary creatures that harken back to ole Viashino Sandstalker…and that’s where I should’ve left it.
As for the additions, believe it or not Legion Loyalist is quite the badass. A sweet topdeck when you have a bunch of Bonesplitters and Grafted Wargear hanging around, a terrific Turn 1 play, and all around good man. Goblin Settler hates more on the sweet nonbasic lands we have these days, even if it is ridiculously expensive ($60?!). Goblin Welder is a card the Mono Brown decks want badly, and an archetype I’ve added a lot of support for with this update.
Have you played with Imperial Recruiter? Because it’s fun on a stick, allowing all sorts of awesome plays and works well in a variety of archetypes. Try this guy out. Manic Vandal returned to my cube because of said Mono Brown pushing (it needs the yin to the yang), and Seismic Assault (and it’s partner in crime Life from the Loam) were added by request for some reach options in red.
The color of creatures, Green wants to be the color that gets ahead in its mana and uses this advantage to punish its opponents.
Avenger of Zendikar
Otherwise, Woodfall Primus returns as another sweet fatty to ramp into, Natural Order is another returning card that follows the fat, Channel helps you cast said fat (and especially those pesky Eldrazi), Life from the Loam was mentioned earlier with Seismic Assault but has other uses like thinning your deck or Strip Mine-ing your opponent to death. And lastly, Experiment One brings the beats, and is a Human to boot.
Not a ton of changes here, mainly adding the fat and its supporting cast.
In the land of colorless cards, I want to help support a “Mono Brown” archetype; Ramp, Fatties and Versatility are the cornerstone of colorless.
As much as I like Platinum Angel, and she was a Cube Original, she has been less and less appealing as the years have gone by. Infinite ways to deal with her, often not doing anything but awkward taking a position on the board for awhile, I’m glad she’s leaving. Eldrazi Monument, by contrast, just never saw enough play. Let’s look at our additions.
You could basically call this the Metalworker Update. Mono Brown is in full force with Basalt Monolith, Thran Dynamo, and Worn Powerstone as your added acceleration. Crucible of Worlds is a really sweet one that sneaks up in a lot of ways–for example, discarding lands to buyback Forbid all of a sudden isn’t so bad at all. Memory Jar is, as always, full of possibilities and sometimes you just want to give people dangerous things to see how they can blow them up. I’m excited to see what players can do with all of this mana acceleration and options moving forward. It’s certainly been a blast so far watching Mono Brown decks of a wide variety win games in crazy ways.
Lastly, Quicksilver Amulet is Fatty Support, and it does it’s job very well.
My multicolor section lives and breathes on the ability for these cards to support and strengthen a variety of archetypes with their color pair.
Prime Speaker Zegana
Assemble the Legion
High Priest of Penance
Obzedat, Ghost Council
Ah man, more Cube Originals are leaving us. Trust me when I say it breaks my heart to cut Trygon Predator and Simic Sky Swallower. It may be seen as controversial, but the flying 2/3 has just not been doing much lately…and by lately, I mean a long time. Now that we have Gatecrash, and soon Dragon’s Maze, the world has given us better Simic cards and I don’t like this one, or Sky Swallower, enough to justify including them over other options. Master Biomancer, Prime Speaker Zegana and Shardless Agent are more powerful or fun (or both) than either of those cards.
For Dimir, out went Oona, Queen of the Fae (a card that has been in the cube ever since her printing…until now) along with Havengul Lich. Oona, I think, has just seen her time come and go, and with the Lich I just couldn’t bring myself to add cards like Perilous Myr just because the Lich existed. You could argue I’m doing this with Life from the Loam and Seismic Assault now, but at least those cards can stand on their own in various ways, whereas I dislike Lich on its own (it was underwhelming), and Perilous Myr is not worth a slot in my opinion.
Anyway, I get to add Duskmantle Seer who is sweet along with Baleful Strix, a card that just shuts down everything, which is nice for the Dimir / Esper decks versus aggressive builds. Lastly we added Dimir Charm to the bunch, an awesome spell that randomly ruins opponent’s Brainstorms or even Liliana Vess activations. Getting their Vampiric Tutor targets off the top is the best.
Oh, and another heartbreaker: the loss of Giant Solifuge. Oh, Cap’n Tickles. You were an amazing creature, you kicked the ass in Standard back in the day, and I have a ton of amazing memories of bashing into the red zone with you. But all good things come to an end, and today we find ourselves losing the Cap’n along with Tattermunge Maniac to have Gore-Clan Rampager and Burning-Tree Emissary take their slots. Powerful and versatile, they’re just better options.
We also added Clan Defiance a Real Fair Card as they say, particularly when you hit the triple play, and Domri Rade is an amazing card against control (just go to 7 and Ultimate) and is not a card you want to fight against in aggro mirrors either. I’ve first picked Domri with no problem, and won with him quite often.
In G/W, as I mentioned earlier, Dryad Militant breaks my rule of 5 but note that White has 85 cards, this being the “phantom 86th.” Yes, I know it doesn’t matter but they’re still design constraints and I still like to follow them. Just don’t expect me to put Vedalken Shackles in Blue anytime soon.
Moving on Orzhov got High Preist of Penance (a killer card in B/W aggro that loves Equipment of all sorts), the return of Tidehollow Sculler, and big-boy himself Obzedat, Ghost Council joins the team as he should. That guy is unreal.
For our final guild, Wizards juiced Boros the most in Gatecrash and you can tell, as we dropped Spitemare for its format-defining replacement Boros Reckoner, added the all-star Firemane Avenger and late-game reacher Sunhome Guildmage. But the spells are where the juice really flows, with Aurelia’s Fury, Boros Charm, and Assemble the Legion all doing incredible work. Go go Boros power!
The lands in my cube are to provide a variety of fixing options for archetypes of all kinds. To provide answers to problems and ways for decks to use their mana to their max potential.
In this update we see the dropping of two somewhat mediocre lands for two lands that are sure to be a hit: Undiscovered Paradise just loves Landfall cards but is great in the 3+ color concoctions, while Cavern of Souls is what aggro decks to need to ensure their scariest threat resolves versus the control decks with their myriad of counterspell options.
So that’s a cube update. These changes are based on weekly gatherings of six to twelve drafters, each week refining what the cube is and how it works, what we do to it and what is fun for all. I hope you guys enjoyed this cube update, and I look forward to Dragon’s Maze additions!