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  • posted a message on [720][Powered][Conspiracy]Metamind's Cube
    This update is inspired by Serra, one of the most exciting cards in recent times. The rest are mostly cards from Ravnica Allegiance. I realized this update is a cycle afterward, but let's pretend it was intentional Smile

    White

    -Gisela, the Broken Blade, +Serra the Benevolent
    Massive upgrade. Gisela is a fine beater, but not a particularly strong one. Her obvious downside is dying to everything, including most burn, without leaving anything any value when answered. Lifelink makes her good against aggro, but then again red answers her easily. With two Baneslayers out she is less necessary.
    Serra is the best card we have seen in a long time. She’s broadly powerful but also supports specific archetypes. Serra is an easy card to like at first sight, yet staring some more gets you deeper into love territory. She appears at first sight to just be a 2WW Serra Angel leaving a planeswalker behind. After two more turns she churns another angel. This is probably going to be her most common play pattern. The angel protects Serra very well, especially considering that it will attack for 5 damage next turn without exposing you to counterattacks. The evasive tokens are also great at killing opposing planeswalkers.
    Using the second ability leaves Serra vulnerable. Even if she dies, a Serra Angel for 2WW is worth a card and reasonable tempo. Serra dying usually requires a burn spell, or an attack that cost the opponent a creature given Serra Angel is a big blocker in the air. Both are great outcomes for the price you pay. Serra might be the only planeswalker that is good tempo and value after just a single activation.
    Her ultimate is achievable the turn after you play her. There are very few ways to win through it, barring answering every single creature your opponent has. That is a very tall task for decks without mass removals, and gets harder once manlands are involved. You may think that it is not that common to have enough defense to just deploy a planeswalker turn 4 and expect it to get no damage and you are correct. The flipside though is that you can expect your opponent to try very hard to prevent that ultimate, which means attacking Serra, even if it causes unprofitable attacks. With her having 6 loyalty she will likely survive as well, and with her +2 loyalty uptake she continues to be a threat. That is a big gain in life and tempo.
    Her second ability is not useless, white has a few cards that make a large army of fliers such as Spectral Procession, Lingering Souls and Hallowed Spiritkeeper. This will also leave her with formidable 6 loyalty at turn 4. Serra is also a great win condition for Moat decks. Overall I expect Serra to be a top level planeswalker.
    As a thought exercise I’ve made a list of ways to win through Serra’s emblem that don’t involve a mass removal or having more spot removals than they have creatures. Feel free to try and see if you can think of them all or find new ones.
    MillingUlamog, the Ceaseless Hunger, Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver, Jace, Memory Adept, Sword of Body and Mind, ultimates of various other jaces, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria, discarding the old eldrazis (such as Emrakul, the Aeons Torn), Dack Fayden, Gideon of the Trials' emblem
    Life loss – a bunch of black cards incur life loss in small values. You can attack your opponent down to 1 life then finish them with life loss. Cards that do this are Collective Brutality, Massacre Wurm, Wretched Confluence, Ob Nixilis’ emblem, The Scarab God, Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, Brutal Hordechief
    Mass bounce - Upheaval and Cyclonic Rift
    Countering the ability with Disallow
    Resetting the game and getting rid of the emblem with Karn, Scion of Urza
    Gaining control of your opponent's turn and then paying life/ sacrificing all the creatures with Emrakul, the Promised End
    Making your opponent sacrifice all his creatures with enough repeated Annihilator with any of the three original Eldrazi, Sheoldred or Braids
    Flickering all the opponents creatures for a long enough time to deal the final blow with Parallax Wave or Eldrazi Displacer

    Blue

    -The Antiquities War, +Mesmerizing Benthid
    TAW has no immediate board impact. That, combined with telegraphing the win condition made it to weak. Artifact decks do have problems sometimes with win conditions and finishing games, a problem somewhat shared with all blue decks and not solved by Benthid. But TAW is just not a reliable win condition at all. 4 artifacts threaten lethal, but they are so easy to block, and easy to prepare a defense for. It is a value card in practice, but one that is expensive and slow. Also, it is very narrow. There are cards in the cube that only go in the artifacts archetype, but most of them are all at least somewhat playable in a deck without 8+ artifacts. A low powerlevel is less tolerable on a very narrow build around card.
    Benthid fills a gap blue decks have – board control. It is one of the better cards at keeping you alive against aggro and midrange. It creates three blockers so fares well against tokens and decks that go wide. Killing Benthid with burn or spot removals is also pretty impossible, having to kill two other creatures and plow through 9 total toughness. There are a few other illusions in blue that would further complicate answering Benthid. Brute force attacking into Benthid will cost a lot of time and mana. Against a singular threat Benthid blocks three times, and wastes their resources for two turns. The weakness of Benthid is to fliers.
    Finishing games in blue is a real issue. Cards like Will Kenrith and Benthid are great at keeping you alive, but not at ending the game. I think Benthid is not as egregious as it is a relevant threat, mostly in the control mirror. A 4/5 hexproof is big enough to matter and he is hard to answer.
    Benthid is a rare token maker in blue. The squid is good with Opposition, Recurring Nightmare and more.

    Black

    -Graveyard Marshal, +Vampire Hexmage
    A 3/2 body is not as impressive as it was. With more tokens and utility creatures lying around, it is pretty hard to attack profitably with those stats. Marshal also creates tokens, but only conditionally, expensively and slowly. The tokens even come into play tapped. Spending three mana on that is worse than any other card you have, and activating it twice a turn is hard in the aggressive decks that play it. The five mana 2BBB for a 3/2 + a tapped 2/2 is also subpar, not to mention black heavy. It is all free value on a 3/2 for BB, but I’d not play a 3/2 for 1B. Marhsal failed to impress.
    Hexmage is primarily tool against planeswalkers. Not a glaring hole in black or anything, but planeswalkers are increasing slowly in numbers and WAR is about to include 36 of them. A good answer to Hangarback Walker.

    Red

    -Harsh Mentor, +Rix Maadi Reveler
    More for Mentor disappointing than Reveler being exciting. Mentor is highly dependent on your opponent’s board state. A 2/2 for 1R is unplayable. Reveler at its base is a 2/2 that improves your card quality a bit. If you have an empty hand it even draws a card. That is the base mode, and the card’s performance will be dictated by how that base performance is. It also has the spectacle mode. It’s in another color, expensive and conditional on several fronts but when it’s good it’s great. The final use is as a discard outlet. Much less relevant in red than black, but it’s rare to cut a discard outlet when you need one.

    Green

    -Kessig Prowler, +Incubation Druid
    Prowler doesn’t fit green. It would see immediate play in red, black or white but green has no aggro and no use of a 2/1 for G. It made few maindecks without Secrets of Paradise. Incubation is not a powerful card, but a very good fit for this cube. I expect decks that play him mostly for the 2 mana mode to value him low but super ramp decks to love him.
    It costs 2 and ramps for 1, doesn’t bail you out of color screw and has a weak body which is overall nothing to be excited about. Adapting is also not efficient and removal prone. That said, it is a better than most ramp two drops when drawn late. A 3/5 body is relevant, both for defense and offense. For completeness’ sake, I should mention there are a few ways to give him counters cheaply, like Verdurous Gearhulk, Nissa, Voice of Zendikar and Rishkar, Peema Renegade. These are powerful synergies but rare and I believe risky enough as not to be worth building around.
    This floor is good, but doesn’t stand out compared to other options in green. Land based ramp fixes mana and doesn’t die to removals, Sylvan Caryatid is safer and fixes, Devoted Druid and Lotus Cobra ramp for 2 mana earlier, Explore always draws a card and Wall of Roots is a better blocker. You trade early game consistency for some late game power which is overall not necessarily good enough to make the cut in cube.
    However, he does provide three mana in one card and bridges the gap from 5 to 8 mana, a relevant trait for casting those 8 drops or eldrazis. One of the few playable cards that do that, along with Gilded Lotus or Nissa, Worldwaker. Druid is again more vulnerable, and is also slower, but it has a playable two mana mode which is a major advantage.
    Posted in: Cube Lists
  • posted a message on [RNA][CUBE} - Theater of Horrors
    Quote from wtwlf123 »
    I don't think Bedevil is necessarily an upgrade to Dreadbore. I also don't think Rakdos is all that weak either. It's a pretty strong guild overall.

    Agree with all of this, Rakdos is one of the few guilds that I feel some of the cards I don't play are also great. Dreadbore is the sort of card you want to splash for in red deck as it offers an effect doesn't have access to, but not so much in black. If Rakdos is heavily aggro the cheaper cost is a big difference.

    mjrsea, you are referring to different metrics in your comment. Are you interested in ranking the guilds by strength of decks in those colors, strength of the gold cards or depth of the gold cards?

    What do you mean by Boros strategy?
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on Guild Land Suggestions
    Quote from wtwlf123 »
    I think my slower BR decks have lost more games because they topdeck Blackcleave Cliffs as land 4+ and can't cast their 4- or 5-drop on curve than times when my faster Rakdos decks have lost games because Lavaclaw Reaches came into play tapped. I still think that overall the ETBT drawback is more significant for faster decks, but every land has some give and take to it. And manlands are just better options in a greater % of situations for a greater % of decks, in my experience.

    Fastlands are definitely worse in slower decks, but there are other options like Sulfurous Springs, Dragonskull Summit and Graven Cairns which are good in all deck types if that is your concern.
    Personally, aggro makes about 80% of the Rakdos decks here.
    Posted in: The Cube Forum
  • posted a message on Guild Land Suggestions
    Quote from asmallcat »

    I think you are vastly underestimating how good 4 damage on post-wrath boards is for Boros. Plus, with the incredibly high density of good aggro 1's and 2's now, it's really easy to find a spot to drop a tapped land while curving out. Yeah, it sucks when you have a Plains Needle Spires hand and only R 1's, but I think the number of games you lose to that is way lower than the number of games you win due to having a wrath and sorcery-speed-immune threat.

    TL;DR - Spires is good, but I value curving out much higher than all the functions the card offers. Manlands also suffer from bad scaling so including all 10 might be excessive.

    Spires is a way to rebound after a mass removal, to attack without overextending and attacking on clear boards. There is also value in the threat of activation, especially against planeswalkers. I don't think it is a bad card at all, and I am likely to play it in probably the next decade. But I view all the things it does as nice to have, while ETB untapped dual lands are crucial and highly desirable to this aggro guild.

    Mass removals are not a huge issue for the color pair - it used to be for many years but I no longer think you need to dedicate many resources to combat it. Now red has many three drops that basically require a mass removal by themselves since they go wide so well. The reach is much better, not to mention the card draw. In white we also got many cards that are naturally good against mass removals, like Selfless Spirit, Adanto Vangaurd, Adorned Pouncer, Dauntless Bodyguard and many more token makers and planeswalkers.

    The more common scenario in my experience, and unfortunately the one more problematic to Boros, is facing blockers. Especially so as control decks play more and more creatures and there are more tokens than ever before. Against midrange creatures Spires usually goes one for one, in a tempo negative way (and that is if you can afford to lose the dual mana source). Tokens and utility creatures just easily block it while you essentially spend your entire turn for activating it.

    Hitting your curve turns 1-3 is of paramount importance, it is not just about color screw scenarios. Any tapland has these issues. In the worse case, playing a tapland can be almost Time Walking, but for the opponent. In an archetype that often ends the game in race situation, this is very hard to swallow.

    As I said the drawback is increasingly bad the more tap lands you play/draw. OTOH, the benefits have diminishing returns. You are very unlikely to activate two or more manlands at the same turn cycle. That's why playing all 10 manlands doesn't seem smart to me out of 40 duals.

    I disagree with your argument that lower curve -> taplands hurt less. Quite the opposite I'd say. The shorter my game plan is the more the tempo hit is significant. Playing a suboptimal turn out of 10 is much less harmful than such a turn out of 4. I am usually planning to end the game before turn 5 - that is before activating the Spires. This is further set back by the fact that I am playing 16 or less lands in those decks, so the usual activation of Spires occurs later than usual. Specifically in red there is a trend lately of lower curves and card draw, and red tap lands play badly with that plan.

    Spires is a good card, relatively interesting and broad. I myself am playing it. But I am consistently picking other dual lands over it when drafting so I believe I'd play them over Spires in a small land section.
    Posted in: The Cube Forum
  • posted a message on [[SCD]] Metalworker
    If picked early and built around, he's broken. It is first pick worthy. Later in the draft Metalworker is hard to play and overall sees fewer maindecks compared to average cube cards.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on Guild Land Suggestions
    Quote from asmallcat »

    Huh? I do wonder, apart from Horizon Canopy, what lands you think are better than the manlands. I think that tarpit, collonade, shambling vent, raging ravine, fumarole, and needle spires are CLEARLY the #4 lands in their guild, and while quagmire and lumbering falls are meh, the other land options in those guilds are also meh as they don't super care about having access to a 4th untapped dual. The only one I could see replacing is reaches, and that's if the vast majority of rakdos decks in your cube are super aggro and it needs the blackcleave cliffs. In our cube we see enough mardu and grixis control that I think the summit is still better.

    Edit - I guess if you were running the slow fetches and wanted a 3rd set of fetchable duals, but then you're so deep into lands I can't imagine not having the manlands anyway.

    TL;DR - lands that ETB untapped

    I think entering the battlefield tapped is a huge drawback and that drawback is magnified the more lands you play that ETBT. There is a limit on how many lands like that I'd play in a deck, especially an aggro deck. Adding 10 of them at once is not beneficial IMO.

    I think the CLEAR #4 best lands that are also manlands are Colonnade, Tar Pit, Ravine and Vent. I'd play Inspiring Vantage and Battlefield Forge for sure over spires, and likely also Rugged Prairie - coming into play tapped is just terrible for this guild. In reality I also pick Clifftop Retreat above it in aggro (= almost always).

    Sources that enter the battlefield untapped are actually critical in my experience in green because of mana elves so I'd play Llanowar Wastes and Blooming Marsh over Quagmire. Same with Simic.
    In Izzet I can see playing Fumarole at #4, but the land is not amazing, just solid, and I think it is on par with Spirebluff Canal and Shivan Reef.

    I actually play 8 lands per guild at 720, and I've just recently cut Lavaclaw Reaches (after a decade), so I play all the following over it:
    Blackcleave Cliffs, Dragonskull Summit, Sulfurous Springs, Graven Cairns - enter the battlefield untapped.
    Smoldering Marsh, Canyon Slough - fetchable, very desirable for splashes
    Posted in: The Cube Forum
  • posted a message on Guild Land Suggestions
    I think it is best to break the cycle. 10 manlands are not necessary and they are not the #4 best lands in most guilds.
    Posted in: The Cube Forum
  • posted a message on [MH1][CUBE] Serra the Benevolent
    Aggressively ultimating will be a good strategy in some matchups as well. I like it, not sure what to cut. Gisela is the low hanging fruit.
    Posted in: Cube New Card Discussion
  • posted a message on [[SCD]] Steam Augury
    Quote from CubeEngineer »
    Izzet still seems like a shallow guild for me granting i have 7 per guild. Is this card still worth it?

    Izzet is shallow for me and I only play 4 cards in that guild. I have a hard time seeing a deck splashing this card or taking it in the first 8 picks. I don't think what the format wants is more Fact or Fictions.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on Sac/Discard outlets for cube?
    Heir is great and I'd play a functional reprint of it at 720 for sure.
    Posted in: The Cube Forum
  • posted a message on [720][Powered][Conspiracy]Metamind's Cube
    Quote from calibretto »
    Any particular reason why you chose to go with Midnight Reaper over Grim Haruspex? Is triggering on its own death worth the potential extra life loss you get with Reaper over Haruspex?

    I play the card not as a build around, but as a flexible card serving multiple roles, and expect it to see play mostly in aggro. I'm enjoying the direction black aggro takes with cheap creatures that replace themselves.
    If your opponent has several spot removals or a spot removal and a mass removal, Haruspex will be the first target so having a card insurance is often relevant. It's also an extra card against a mass removal. As a 3/2 Haruspex often couldn't attack or block profitably, with Reaper you are more lax and the body is a lot more useful in practice.
    In aggro decks, the life loss should be minor. It's probably a bigger deal if Haruspex is played in aristocrats and stax decks. Then again, he is a fine fodder in his own right in said decks so I still think it is the better card. How many cards did you usually draw with Haruspex?
    Also its a zombie
    Posted in: Cube Lists
  • posted a message on [720][Powered][Conspiracy]Metamind's Cube
    RNA update

    After what was IMO an initial letdown for this block last set, we get a mighty set. This is a pretty big update, and remarkably a lot of the changes aren't just sifting in 23rd playables! This set, like the previous, didn't bring too much to guilds that needs them (Izzet, Simic and Gruul) but provides redundancy that is much needed in a 720 cards cube in several areas.


    White


    -Hidden Dragonslayer, +Tithe Taker
    Dragonslayer was an inefficient benchwarmer. Tithe taker is probably just a different benchwarmer, but it gets a chance to prove itself. Taker is an anti-control card in two fronts. First, it taxes their counterspells. Second, it will leave a body behind after a mass removal. It also has positive/cute interactions with skullclamp, against edict effects etc. The downside is that the 2/1 body is very anemic and the taxing is meaningless against most of the metagame. Even worse, I don’t think white weenie decks struggle against permission to begin with.

    -Thalia's Lancers, +Baneslayer Angel
    Lancers are just too expensive. Finding Legendary targets is the easy part; making lancers worth a slot in the deck is not. 5 is too much mana for a tutor, and as a general value card it is low tempo. BSA is the same bomb it has always been. A great card against aggression, and a bad card against control as it fails the Vindicate test. As a five drop it is more playable and more potent, especially as red based aggro is getting better.

    -Glorious Anthem, +Windbrisk Heights
    Anthem is a bit win more. It requires board presence to do anything, and requires a lot of bodies. That limits its homes to just aggro and tokens. In aggro you have limited real estate for cards that are not threats nor answers, meaning Anthem has to compete with equipment and vehicles. That leaves the card to token decks, but even there it is weak and hard to splash. Heights is a different token payoff card. If you can trigger it, you are getting a “free” card. It is not really free, because the land comes into play tapped and activating it costs mana. Assuming you will take the most expensive card you see with hideout on the average case, and considering that aggro and token decks don’t have high curves, you break even on mana. As such it’s not really a tempo gain, but it is still free card advantage.
    So how likely is triggering hideout? Heights has been tested before. It was cut more for lack of interest and maindeck play than lack of performance. Now token support is in an all-time high. Najeela, Legion Warboss, Leonin Warleader, Tezzeret, Artifice Master, Dovin (spoiler alert) and History of Benalia were all added last year. What makes me very confident about the card is how easy it is to flip Legion's Landing. Legion's Landing comes with its own token, and has a much higher floor than Heights though. Lands that enter the battlefield tapped are bad for aggro, so this change is far from a lock.

    -Stalking Leonin, +Gideon of the Trials
    Reswitch at the white 3 drop control support slot. No one attacks into Leonin unless it’s a bunch of tokens. Leonin demands an answer. Problem is, it is very easy to kill, especially with burn. Now if they don’t have an answer in hand you gained tempo, but that didn’t happen often as it is the kind of creature you want to play as soon as possible against aggression and it usually ate the first burn spell in the game. Because Leonin is so unreliable, it just delays the problem and doesn’t solve it. Your opponent will continue to amass an army and kill you once they draw burn. They have enough burn/other removals that this should happen in a timely fashion, and you still need a mass removal. Leonin itself doesn’t survive the mass removal though. I have yet to see Leonin attack, the 3/3 body is a minor part about the card as you don't play it to attack with.
    Gideon has a stricter cost, but it a better tool for the job. It works better with mass removals, prevents damage from Purphoros and Sulfuric Vortex and even has uses outside of control. It is still unsplashable and relatively easy to kill, but an improvement nonetheless.


    Blue


    -Thirst for Knowledge, +Sphinx of Foresight
    One card quality effect for another. Thirst has been in the cube since day one, but has fallen sharply in power. It is expensive and very rarely generates card advantage. Not only are some decks just too light on artifacts, others care about their artifacts too much to discard them. Thirst has been surpassed in all of its roles – we have better discard outlets in blue and better instant speed draw spells, multiple cards in both categories. Cheaper card selection spells, such as the freshman Portent, are seeing more play as well.
    Sphinx is very reminiscent of Curator of Mysteries. I thought Curator would be cycled 90% of the time, but it’s pretty close to 50% in practice. A 4/4 flier turns out to be a handy thing to have as a blocker, as planeswalker pressure, or just as a way to speed up the clock when you need to close the game. Foresight has a better effect on the body, I don’t think Curator’s scry ever triggered. However, SoF does not have cycling and without cycling Curator would be unplayable. Fortunately, the free scry 3 from the opening hand is a very strong effect. It will make most hands with it keepable. It is best in combo-like decks such as Show and Tell and Tinker, but very good everywhere. It digs as deep as Preordain or Ponder, and you get to keep the flier in your hand (you can almost guarantee casting the sphinx if it is in your opening hand – self synergy!). Sphinx will be in your opening hand 17% of the time without mulligans, so it remains to be seen how well in will perform in reality.

    -Exclusion Mage, +Sage's Row Savant
    Blue needs cheap blockers to survive aggression. Omenspeaker is a very successful card here. Omeanspeaker and Savant are both cards where you do not care too much about the body if it dies in a trade, and they are not a disaster to draw late either. If the deck you are up against isn’t aggro, you still got a cheap, playable card that will bail you out of mana floods and mana screws. Omenspeaker is better, as it is a better blocker that doesn’t die to tokens or 1 damage from splittable burn.
    Exclusion Mage fills the same role, but it is a more expensive card in a more competitive slot among all colors in the cube.


    Black


    -Tormented Hero, +Gutterbones
    Both warriors, both one drops, one is basically strictly better than the other. Tormented Hero is the worse black one drop due to having 1 toughness. Gutterbones returns to your hand, which can be useful if you have discard outlets.

    -Isareth the Awakener, +Spawn of Mayhem
    Isareth is too conditional. It costs double black, it wants you to have dead creatures, and they need to be cheap. She has a ceiling that is very hard to achieve and all told while it is value it is still slow and expensive. Spawn should cost 1BB most of the time. It attacks for 5 damage a turn, has evasion and is hard to kill. This is a serious upgrade for black aggro decks.

    -Liliana, Heretical Healer, +Midnight Reaper
    Liliana had the same problems as Isareth – black intensive, conditional, low impact when played. Black is a hard to color to splash, which limits its usage and performance. Out of 17 cards that cost 3 in black (creatures and noncreatures), 9 cost double black. This has to change. Reaper, besides being splashable, has a high chance of replacing itself. He acts as mass removal protection, discourages trading and has some synergies with cards like Skullclamp, Braids and the self-recurring creatures. He is even a zombie for minor synergies such as Gravecrawler.

    -Wanted Scoundrels, +Bearer of Silence
    I haven’t seen Scoundrels being played. I saw it maindecked a little bit, but that also didn’t happen much. A risky card that is not very appealing. With three new spectacle cards, and especially with Spawn of Mayhem, evasive two drops raise in value so Bearer makes a comeback.


    Red


    -Earthquake, +Light up the Stage
    There are a lot more red sweepers than demand for them, especially with two that are nearly strictly better. Light up the Stage is an effect we have never seen before. As most red decks are aggressive, it should cost 1 the majority of time. Note that you can play lands with it, and you can also play cards next turn, so in a low curve deck it should be easy to gain card advantage. Does red want this effect?

    -Char, +Skewer the Critics
    Two three mana, aggro only burn spells. Burn that costs three mana just isn’t that strong. Char is low on damage to mana efficiency, and on the damage per card axis cards like Risk Factor beat it not to mention creature three drops. Skewer evades this issue by costing a single mana a significant part of the time. Skewer is probably worse than Volcanic Hammer for general use, as it cannot remove blockers cheaply, or consistently kill anything on the second turn. That said, some aggro and burn decks will prefer it over hammer, and the more cards like Light up the Stage/Experimental Frenzy/Risk Factor are added to red, the more important the cheap mana cost will become.


    Green


    -Deathgorge Scavenger, +End-Raze Forerunners
    Scavenger is just a particularly bad card. It requires cards in the graveyard to do anything, and the net result is unimpressive. Green has three drops for days and they are all a level above this dino. Never better than a 23rd playable.
    Forerunners are redundancy to Craterhoof Behemoth. The pump is weaker, so they win the game less often on the spot. However, the have a respectable standalone body, that plays both offense and defense, so they are an acceptable reanimation/cheat target. The boars are also better after a mass removal, or in general in any situation where Craterhoof does not win the game immediately.

    -Garruk, Primal Hunter, +Vivien Reid
    For a long time we pondered which of the two weaker green planeswalkers to cut for Vivien. Now we found a solution – we are cutting both. Garruk is showing his age. A 3/3 per turn is not as impressive as before. When the card came out, it wasn’t too long after Call of the Herd was playable. A stream of 3/3s was very hard to contain for control decks and very hard to surpass for aggro decks. Today a 3/3 is worth roughly around a body of a two drop. Garruk needs to create 3 tokens to be worth the card and mana. Of course Garruk can also draw cards, but that was rather rare and more of a luxury from what I’ve seen. In ramp decks there often isn’t a large creature on board the turn you play Garruk. The triple green cost seals it.
    Vivien is a more boring planeswalker- she fits in the template of Ob Nixilis (and many others): first ability is card advantage, second is removal and third is an ultimate. What makes her good though is that she covers an inherent weakness in her color. Green has almost no spot removals, and while it has fat bodies on the ground, it is weak to fliers. Usually such an effect would be too narrow to see play. That is the first fliers-only removal in the cube, ever. Also, maindeckable Naturalize effects are always sought after from a cube designer’s perspective.
    She is the first green control planeswalker, perhaps she can be labeled the first green control card. Green is terrible in the attrition long game, as it has no answers and in a long enough game you are bound to face something that will overcome you. Vivien is the best tool green has to tackle that problem, by providing repeatable removal options for a large portion of problematic permanents.

    -Nissa, Vital Force, +Biogenic Ooze
    An anemic planeswalker is how I’d describe Vital Force. She has a good powerlevel, but she is also never the suitable tool for the job. 5/5 haste is good, and rare in green, but without evasion not a win condition. Her ultimate is a way to gain card advantage, but late and very slowly. No strategy ever really wanted her, or needed her, nor did any opponent particularly fear her.
    Ooze is overhyped IMO, but still a solid card that will likely see play for at least a few years. It passes the removal test and generates two immediate blockers. It is a great mana sink, something green ramp decks like. You often have excess mana with Gaea's Cradle and Rofellos. Ooze converts mana to a win. It also has the random synergy with the other loose ooze (pun intended) you may play. My reservation is not about powerlevel but playability – I think Ooze is underwhelming unless you plan on activating his ability, probably multiple times. With it being expensive and costing triple green, I think it is not a good midrange card. It will be good in ramp and super ramp decks (those that aim to casts eldrazis), so the card has its place, it’s just for a niche market and not mass appeal.

    -Territorial Alosaurus, +Wickerbough Elder
    Alosaurus is a failed experiment. Card is very underwhelming in both modes and not worth a cube slot.
    Elder is another maindeckable Disenchant, an instant speed one no less. Another placeholder four drop, but one that is more splashable, more playable and more powerful. It is hard for your opponent to play artifacts and enchantments while it is in play, similar to how Glen Elendra Archmage plays.


    Multicolored


    -Geist of Saint Traft, +Dovin, Grand Arbiter
    Geist is good but slots only in one deck that is very niche – U/W tempo. Dovin is a better tempo card and we do not have space for two cards to serve that niche.
    Dovin is a bit underrated so an explanation is due why I think he is so powerful. He is like a Bitterblossom. Costs one more, and an extra color, but creates a token right away and gains life instead of losing it. We all know how strong flying tokens are, and he creates them repeatedly, for free and early. Quoting wtwlf: “Dovin is to token generation effects what Jace Beleren is to draw effects.” The loyalty gaining ability is very good in decks that go wide. With three attackers, it bumps him straight to ultimate. The ultimate is great Wrath insurance and a boon in slow games. It is better than Dig through Time. It is also hard to keep Dovin from ultimating by attacking, as attacking will leave you exposed to attacks next turn, which will increase Dovin’s loyalty back up. We also cannot avoid the cliché: three mana planeswalkers are often good cards.
    Dovin is not a control card, but does have a few more homes than Geist. Dovin is good in token decks, with anthems and Opposition. It is good in Moat decks. It also has artifact synergies with the thopters (Academy, Retrofitter Foundry, Tinker to name a few). Overall I have high expectations of the card.


    -Huntmaster of the Fells, +Ravager Wurm
    Huntmaster is basically a low value card. He is best as an anti aggro card for ramp decks. It creates two blockers and gains two life, and that is solid value in that matchup. Against control, it is two bodies, one of them somewhat threatening and demands an answer eventually or a severe change of play patterns. Flipping is very rare, and becomes harder with time as the cube’s curve gets lower and cars get more efficient. It is not a threat – it is a speedbump or removal bait. Not really a bad card, but nothing special either.
    The best card in Gruul is Atarka, and Wurm plays in the same space – it is a fattie for ramp decks, cheatable with Natural Order, searchable with GSZ and can be Sneak Attacked into play for value. There is definitely space for more cards that like that. It is 4 cards in one, and each mode will shine at some situations.
    There are multiple catches though. A 4/5 or 5/6 body is not good at finishing games without trample or evasion. Electing fight + haste can be impractical against many board states, as the damage of the fight stays on the wurm, making blockers lethal. It does not destroy some of the powerful lands such as Gaea's Cradle.

    -Azra Oddsmaker, +Judith, the Scourge Diva
    Oddsmaker was only ever played as a discard outlet. It’s a good discard outlet, but that's too narrow for a gold card. As an offensive three drop, red three drops beat it very hard nowadays. It is hard to catch up on how strong red three drops have become in such a short time. In general though, eating a removal in response to the ability (or before the creature connects) really hurts and is a risky move as they can often see it coming.
    Judith works well with the token theme in red and aggressive decks in general. Each creature can trade up with a blocker up to two more toughness than its power. A Courser of Kruphix now trades with a one drop. She pings elves with her trigger and provides value when facing a mass removal. The downside however is very real: she is only a 2/2 herself.


    Colorless


    -Precursor Golem, +Sphinx of the Guildpact
    Golem is outclassed by five drops of all colors. It’s not even that good with Daretti as the tokens are so vulnerable. Sphinx is almost Sphinx of Jwar Isle. The only spot removals that kill or bounce it are:
    Dreadbore, Kolaghan's Command, Qasali Pridemage, Knight of Autumn, Vindicate, Maelstrom Pulse, Trygon Predator, Vraska, Relic Seeker, Ashen Rider, Daretti, Ingenious Iconoclast, Fractured Identity, Dragonlord Silumgar, Teferi, Hero of Dominaria and Reflector Mage.

    14 cards is a low amount in a 720 cards cube. In return it is fetchable by both Tinker and Natural Order. I am skeptical is will be used in such manner though as the threat is so low powered.


    Lands


    -Lavaclaw Reaches, +Graven Cairns
    With Canyon Slough, Rakdos had too many lands that enter the battlefield tapped for a guild that is over 50% aggro. Reaches is far from a stellar land though – it will die to any creature in combat, including one drops. Nowadays every deck has utility bodies around due to creature power creep and the land’s value diminished. On the other hand, black and red have a lot of color intensive cards, more so on the black side. That is less important than just being a dual land that comes into untapped in those colors though.

    Posted in: Cube Lists
  • posted a message on This or That discussion.


    Ashiok > Connive//Concoct > Thief of Sanity
    Insult//Injury > Shrine > Electrodominance
    SDE > Mimic
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on Red 4 Drops And A General Discussion About Curating Curve vs. Power Level
    I am playing everything you have listed, except Hero, and I include Daretti, Teritorial Hellkite and Rekindling Phoenix. That is at 720, so you are definitely over the top. Of everything you wrote, I'd definitely cut Hero, he is reliant on board presence and is weak to blockers. I also think Hazoret is cuttable due to consistency issues and overcrowding of the aggro-only 4 drops.
    I like Pia and Kiran as a multiple role card. Good in token decks, artifact decks and more minor interactions with blink and 2-power matters (like Alesha). Still a great card at face value for slower red decks, as it provides three blockers, 2 of them in the air, and pressures planeswalkers very well. I prefer them over FTK unless your cube is excluding a lot of the synergies and the demand for non-aggro red 4 drops is very low. I'd also play them before Purphoros, as it's sub-optimal to play a token payoff card without playing the good, generally playable token producers first.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on Random Cube Card of the Day Thread
    That's a very optimistic analysis. Besides the regular aura issues of requiring a creature in play and being weak to removal and bounce, the effect you get is conditional and will often do nothing. We know this from Sword of Feast and Famine. To really abuse it, you need a steady stream of cards, and that a large chunk of them will be proactive and unconditional. That or a curve full of 4 and 5 drops, which is non viable in most cubes and has a self contradiction with the card's need for cheap creatures to enchant. It doesn't even add trample.
    Totem Armor is not a very helpful mechanic in general, it does nothing against white spot removals, Control Magic effects, edicts, -X/-X or bounce.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
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