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  • posted a message on [540][Powered] wtwlf123's Cube
    They smooth out early draws, fix mana, fill the graveyard for delve/delirium/etc., add extra food for Wurmlets and Welders, provide chainable permanents for Emry and Conduit, trigger your Push and Sam effects, lower your curve, trigger prowess, and most importantly, they allow you to play a "smaller" deck so you can increase the density of your most impactful cards. As cube games become more dependent on drawing your most powerful cards, playing a "3X-card" deck because you have eggs and baubles to churn through your library is a desirable outcome. The fact that most decks can also find at least a couple of additional interactions with them is just a pure upside. They have felt pretty nice so far.
    Posted in: Cube Lists
  • posted a message on This or That discussion.
    Living Death is the most like-for-like swap if you're trying to keep the same number of reanimation spells in the cube. I think Languish is my least favorite card from that group though.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [CUBE][LTR] Delighted Halfling
    Ya, this is a good mana dork. Excited for it!
    Posted in: Cube New Card Discussion
  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 March of the Machine (MOM) cards for the cube!
    They're going to be quite good in retail limited, and will play well in constructed decks designed to maximize their consistency. They struggled to perform in cube testing for me though. Obviously, YMMV.
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 March of the Machine (MOM) cards for the cube!
    Ya, the battle designs were pretty conservative this time around. But I'd bet we see some pushed designs in the future.
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 March of the Machine (MOM) cards for the cube!
    A bit off topic, but Chrome Host Seedshark has to have one of the weirdest names of any magic card.

    Sadly, I don't think battles are much good in cube at all. Even at lower power level. Flipping it needs to be just gravy, since most battles will never flip in a given game. But I've played a ton of Tormenting Voice, so Invasion of Mercadia can't be too bad.

    It's a super weird cardname, for sure.

    And ya, the baseline on Mercadia is so close to playable that it wound up being the battle that was the closest to being good.

    Quote from Visserdrix »
    Interesting to see seedshark take the top spot!

    Easy swap for Nadir Kraken in my list!

    Thanks for the quick review as always! saves me lots of time now that I am a parent!

    You're welcome, and congrats!
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 March of the Machine (MOM) cards for the cube!
    There are a couple of MOC cards that should make the cut, even if there's not much from the main set. But ya, overall it's pretty mild.
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
  • posted a message on [MOM][CUBE] March of the Machine Includes & Testing Results
    Correct, just main set content in the review.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 March of the Machine (MOM) cards for the cube!
    Quote from Thundermare3 »
    Thank you as always for your constancy. I completely overlooked Borborygmos and Fblthp. MaRo said it was his favorite MOM card I guess I need to give this some serious thought.

    You're welcome! BaF looks fun and it's been playing decently.

    Great reviews. The only card I'm personally interested for 360 is Death-Greeter's Champion so the list seem rather accurate overall. The rest of the cards are just testing and I'm not sure how it pan out long term.

    I think Wrenn is strong, but him not being able to make a creature that protect him on T3 makes me think he's not good enough for 360.

    I'm actually also interset in Invasion of Ixalan because I still like Oath of Nissa and believe that this kind of effects are great in cube.

    Ya, the best card(s) from this set wound up being from the commander set.

    Quote from TheKorko »
    Good list as always!

    I'm hoping the Phoenix does well, I think this is perfect as a two drop right before Phoenix of Ash but want to get some games in.

    Rampaging Raptor I'm excited to try out as well since one of red's disadvantages of opponent's PWs being ability + fog can be helpful.

    Thanks! Red got some good beaters from this set, for sure.

    Quote from LucidVision »
    Great list as always, thanks for the content!

    Shocked to read you cut OG elspeth! Not that I think it’s incorrect (no idea, I still run it) but I remember you used to love that card and rate it highly

    You're welcome! She's been out for quite a while for me now. Fine card, but I can live without. Pretty much how I feel about the new one too. Smile

    As usual your list is a must read article for any cube lover. Thanks for the great job.

    Getting the shark the number 1 took me by surprise but most of what you say looks fun and interesting interactions I didn't really thought about. Even 0 incubetes can contribute to urza saga tokens buff or just being tezzered.

    I'm hyped for Rona. To me she's a blast.

    Thanks for the kind words!

    Rona's a good card, and I'm excited to see Shark in action.
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 March of the Machine (MOM) cards for the cube!
    Thanks for the kind words! Glad you enjoyed it. Smile
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 March of the Machine (MOM) cards for the cube!
    Hello again fellow cube enthusiasts!

    This is my 46th installment of the "top 20" set (P)review articles! Just like the previous reviews, it will be in a spoiled top X countdown format, with each section having an image, a brief summary/description, and my verdict on what cubes I think it could potentially see some play in. I got a lot of positive feedback on the format from the last few articles, so I’m going to keep the “what I like” and “what I don’t like” sections.

    Keep in mind (just like the others) that this is a set preview. Similar to draft predictions in professional sports, this list is an educated guess at best. Some cards I value highly in here may turn out to not last long in the cube. Other cards that are lower down on the list (or even missed entirely!) could (well, very likely may) turn out to be great cards. Even the great Tom Brady was drafted in the 6th round! Again, this is not intended to be gospel, set in stone, or written as a review for posterity. This is simply written to be an enjoyable guess at cards I like for cubes, and hopefully it'll allow some cube managers to evaluate cards they may have otherwise overlooked and/or put some cards in perspective that may've been overhyped. Nothing more. Smile

    March of the Machine is a flavorful set that is full of fun and interesting cards for cubes. The set mechanics provide some new and unique areas to explore, and cubes of all sizes and flavors should find at least a few cards that interest them and their respective playgroups. It also introduced a new card type! Battles (more specifically, Sieges in this case) which are double-faced cards that enter with a defense value that can be attacked down to zero in order to re-cast the card transformed. I did some significant testing with the Battle mechanic, and my thoughts on it are spoiled below. (Note: If you want to skip the evaluation process on the mechanic to avoid potential spoilers, you can jump down to the card evaluations and come back later.)

    The basic evaluation for Battles was to try and figure out how much the transform clause was worth. The front side of the card essentially worked like an enchantment with an enters the battlefield trigger, and the ability to transform the card adds a certain amount of value to that effect. My goal was to try and figure out: A) how relevant is the transform, B) how consistent is the transform, C) how often is it correct to fight over the transformation, and D) how much value is added to the card because it can transform?

    In a nutshell, the Battle/transform mechanic was bad. I started off by evaluating the front sides of the Battles and determining if any were cards that I would play even if they couldn’t transform. There weren’t any. Clearly, Wizards’ assigned a mana value to the front side of the battle in a form of a “tax” to justify the upside of being able to flip it for additional value. So what I needed to assess is how much mana is having the backside worth? I added a one mana tax to each card and re-asked the question. If the Battle cost one mana less, how many of them would I play. In this instance, there were about four or five battles that ended up being worth testing, and those ones ended up making up my pool of testable battles.

    What I found out:

    1. The relevancy of the mechanic was hit or miss. There are a lot of instances where it’s incorrect to even attempt to transform the battle because the pressure you would apply to your opponent or their planeswalkers is just more important. In a format like the cube were games need to be closed out quickly, this issue is amplified. I expect retail limited to work completely differently, and the juice will be worth the squeeze a lot more often there. It’s likely only correct to want to attack Battles down less than half the time in a fast cube environment.

    2. Even in the instances where you might want to attack Battles down, the game state won’t allow it. The opponent might have blockers out that prevent you from having a profitable attack, and by the time things open up again, you have to reassess issue #1, and it may no longer even be worth flipping it.

    3. Even when you do successfully flip a card, the transformed side is cast, meaning it can be countered by the opponent. Working through a combat step or two in an attempt to flip the card telegraphs your intent pretty hard, and the opponent has time to prepare for the defense of that line of play.

    By the time I concluded my testing, Battles proved to be super underwhelming. They face issues with both relevancy and consistency. The presence of the transform ability certainly adds some value, but it felt like it was worth a lot less than a full mana. It is likely worth a tax that makes the spell slightly harder to play (so a spell that would be playable at 2G might be worth 1GG because of the transform ability, or a card that I’m willing to play at instant speed might be worth downgrading to sorcery, etc.) but it won’t make a spell that would be playable at two mana worth three mana. Because of that, the number of potentially cubeworthy Battles plummeted, and the first round of them seem to be significantly overcosted for faster cube environments.

    Even in situations where you can get a clean attack at a Battle to transform it, it is better to simply attack the opponent or one of their ‘walkers in a huge percentage of cases. Basically, the Battle has to justify its inclusion based on the front half of the card, and very few (if any) truly can in fast, volatile formats.

    Without further ado, here’s the countdown!

    Seal from Existence

    A new Oblivion Ring variant.

    What I Like: Ward 3 is a significant tax on a removal spell or enters the battlefield trigger that might threaten to undo your removal spell. It adds quite a bit more time and/or consistency to the nature of this kind of suspended removal.

    What I Don't Like: One of the selling points of O-Ring-type removal is the splashability of the effect, and making this card harder to cast limits the number of decks that could play it effectively.

    Verdict: If your cube is in the market for an additional O-Ring or you want to try a variant out that provides a more consistent form of removal (even at a cost) this card might be worth exploring. I think it’s worthy of consideration somewhere around the 720-card size on its own, and might be worth exploring in some smaller cubes if it appeals to you.

    Sword of Once and Future

    The final Sword!

    What I Like: Surveil 2 and casting free cheap spells are both things that are nice to have. Protection from black is good on Swords since that color has a hard time dealing with artifacts once they resolve, and black has a lot of targeted removal. And pro blue is good against bounce and creature theft. Powered cubes flashing back Ancestrals and Walks will feel super nice, of course.

    What I Don't Like: I think that Swords have to be able to push back hard in order to justify their 5 mana costs, and the best way to do that is to generate advantage that impacts the board, and do so consistently. This Sword can generate card advantage, but it’s not always guaranteed, and the best Swords can generate more value (with a higher impact) with more consistency. I think this is a middle-of-the-pack Sword, which is to say, it’s good, but not great.

    Verdict: Larger powered cubes with a spells-centric tempo shell that’s supported pretty deeply might get a lot of mileage out of a Sword like this. But I think most medium-sized cubes will be able to comfortably pass. Perhaps 720 (or even 630) if the abilities gel just perfectly with your playgroup and supported archetypes.


    A new 5-mana Wrath variant.

    What I Like: A sweeper that exiles all creatures is valuable against a lot of sells, and leaving behind a meaningfully-sized incubated threat is very nice. If that creature ends up being a 3/3 or a 4/4 for two-mana, that’s a pretty reasonable rate, and a good free threat to rebuild your post-wrath board with.

    What I Don't Like: 5-mana Wrath effects have proved to be too slow. It’s not because they’re missing extra value or need free stuff stapled on; it’s because you simply can’t afford to waste another turn of being beaten down to stop the pressure. This Wrath has two great upsides, but I don’t expect it to suddenly make the tempo of the game function differently.

    Verdict: If your cube group has had success with 5-mana sweepers, you should give this a try. Not only does it exile the creatures, but it comes with a built-in threat attached. If my cube was a bit bigger and had a critical turn that was 1-2 turns later, I would be all over this card.

    Pile On

    Lethal Scheme at home.

    What I Like: Convoke is a nice ability to add to effects like this, especially in reactive/defensive decks that can use blockers to pay for spells. And Surveil 2 is a great upside for black where feeding the ‘yard while providing card selection is valuable to a lot of shells. While the Connive on Scheme is a better upside, Pile On is better when you’re paying full value for the card.

    What I Don't Like: Scheme is good, but it’s not so good that I’m willing to play a diet version of the effect. Looting is so much better than Surveilling, and Pile can’t buff your team.

    Verdict: If your cube group wants a second Scheme variant so much that you’re willing to play a stripped-down version of it, this card is right in your wheelhouse. For me, I don’t think that would happen under 720-ish in size, but YMMV.

    Thalia and The Gitrog Monster

    A fun Abzan monster!

    What I Like: First strike + deathtouch kills everything in combat. The tapped lands and tapped creatures clause that Thalia brought over provide a lot of disruption, and the ability can be an interesting synergy effect to have your drafters try and use to their advantage. Decks with recursive creatures and Loam/Crucible effects can mitigate the drawback and use this creature as a card advantage engine too.

    What I Don't Like: I really wish the sacrifice ability was a “may” so that you don’t have to sacrifice a permanent in the situations where it’s going to be disadvantageous to do so.

    Verdict: If your cube group doesn’t play green aggro and therefore can’t make good use of Warden of the First Tree, but the design of your cube still wants a card representative for the Abzan wedge, I think this card is the best option.

    Sunder the Gateway

    A new Disenchant variant.

    What I Like: This card feels a bit like a white Foundation Breaker that exchanges the ability to have its ETB trigger abused for the ability to get the body and the ability paid for in different installments. Four total mana for a 2/2 and a Disenchant isn’t the worst place to be, and being able to split the cost between different turns is a nice upside.

    What I Don't Like: I wish the second mode of the spell was valuable in more situations. Having an artifact Bear as a floor is okay, but I don’t see that effect being used much at all. I don’t think that effect makes up for the card needing to be played at sorcery speed. Also, the "nontoken" limitation isn't flavor text. There are a lot of artifact tokens that need to be dealt with, and missing them entirely is a drag.

    Verdict: This is a fine Disenchant option for medium- to large-sized cubes that are looking for more answers to artifacts and enchantments and want to have access to the artifact bear body to go alongside it. I would play this card somewhere in the 630-720 range myself.

    Halo Forager

    A spells matters tempo beater.

    What I Like: A 3-power flying creature for 3-mana is a good baseline when you staple on the ability to re-cast spells onto it. And the ability to cast the spell from either graveyard is a great upside. The spells need to be proactive, but the ability to replay powerful effects or get access to off-color spells from the opponent’s ‘yard is really cool. As a late-game topdeck, this card is really nice because there’s no mana value cap to what the creature can replay. You also don’t have to pay the mana up front, so if it gets countered, you’re not out the extra mana.

    What I Don't Like: It would be way too good with flash, but it would be nice to see more of these kinds of creatures not limited to proactive spells. Also, the competition for middle-of-the-curve Dimir cards is pretty steep.

    Verdict: If you play spells-centric tempo shells and have the room in your blue/black section, this card will probably play very well. I would give it a spin if I had another slot or two in Dimir, which means it’s probably a 630-720 card.


    A midrange value monster.

    What I Like: A 4/5 body with built-in removal is a good baseline. Menace on top of that helps the creature apply pressure, and the nontoken clause allows the edict to dodge fodder. Late in the game, the transform ability will lead to some backbreaking lines.

    What I Don't Like: A few years ago, this card would’ve been a slam dunk. Now there a a bunch of good options in the black 5cc creature slot, and this joins them as one of the more competitive ones. The 8-card clause on the flip is a big issue. If you haven’t tracked threshold in a while, it can be hard to hit and that will lead to a lot of consistency issues if you’re banking on the transform ability to generate value for you.

    Verdict: I don’t fault anyone for wanting to give Sheoldred a spin because it’s a very swingy creature. Competition is stiff now, and this is likely the 3rd or 4th best black 5cc creature, so it’ll struggle to crack into smaller cube lists.

    Archangel Elspeth

    A new Elspeth variant.

    What I Like: The 1/1 tokens are improved by granting them lifelink. The flying and stat boost is permanent. The ultimate is cheaper and arguably more relevant. If Knight-Errant is a powerhouse for you in your cube, this new Elspeth should perform quite well.

    What I Don't Like: Having two {+} abilities is a powerful upside to the OG Elspeth. You can grant additional evasive pressure while building loyalty instead of depleting it. It also makes the original Elspeth better at pressuring ‘walkers without making herself vulnerable because of that.

    Verdict: I don’t currently run Knight-Errant anymore, and I think she’s better than this card. If the 4-mana ‘walkers that generate incremental advantage are still a recipe for success in your group, this new Elspeth should work out well for you. But if OG Elspeth is starting to show her age a bit, I don’t expect this version to be an all-star for you as a replacement. I think this card looks to be more of a bigger, grindier-style cube inclusion to me.

    Wrenn and Realmbreaker

    A 3cc midrange ‘walker.

    What I Like: Full mana fixing is a nice static ability. The creature land it makes having hexproof is a way to not risk your threat. The {-2} feeds the ‘yard and gets you a card, and the ultimate is pretty cool. Overall, it’s a nice package for 3 mana.

    What I Don't Like: The static fixing ability would be so much more valuable if the card cost 2G instead of 1GG. The land not untapping prevents this card from having any board impact on T3. The “from among the revealed cards” clause on the {-2} is a drag because I can’t get my best permanent back unless I binned it from the activation (and can’t chain Strip Mines and stuff with it). Any one of those changes would’ve been a big boost, even at the cost of lower starting loyalty or something. But as is, all 3 abilities just seem slightly underwhelming. It’s secretly a 4cc ‘walker that can’t generate value as it plusses towards an ultimate if you want to use the creature effectively.

    Verdict: I think this ‘walker is okay, but I think it’s being wildly overrated by the cube community as a whole. I would expect this to be a solid performer for larger-sized cubes that have an interest in this particular combination of effects.

    Invasion of Mercadia

    A Thrill of Possibility Battle variant.

    What I Like: Baseline discard to draw two variant in red that we’ve seen several times now. It sacrifices the instant speed of Thrill or the haste clause of Reunion to bring the Battle mechanic to this type of effect. I like how the transformed creature continues to be a discard outlet in decks trying to get cards into the yard, so the front and back halves play well together in the same kinds of decks. And the ability on the back is strong too. It makes two bodies, and then gives the team haste and a battle cry trigger; serving as both a token engine and an anthem effect all in one.

    What I Don't Like: Like all of the Battles I tested, the front side of the effect is just slightly too overcosted for the lack of consistency you face with the transforming conditions. Needed flash (or to cost 1 mana) to be pushed enough for faster cube formats.

    Verdict: Close to overcoming the hurdles put in place by this Battle mechanic, but ultimately fell just short. I’d play this if my cube was at 630+ though, because I like the combination of abilities and the apparent symmetry between the two halves of the card.


    A beater and value monster hybrid.

    What I Like: A 6/6 trampler (with reach) for 5 mana that also generates card advantage by fetching up two Forests into your hand is a good deal. In decks that are looking to both cast big 6+cc monsters and apply pressure in the midgame, Vorinclex can fill that gap well. If you elect to transform it, it can find additional big threats, make your team bigger, and kill all your opponent’s creatures.

    What I Don't Like: There are better sources of pressure at this mana cost, and better sources of value. While Vorinclex gives you both, it’s not amazing in either role, and I don’t think the arguably overcosted transform ability makes up for it completely.

    Verdict: This is a good monster, and it competes with the tier-two green 5-drops favorably. If my cube was in the need for an extra 5cc threat and I was unsure exactly of what role I would want it to play, Vorinclex would be a great option. I think I would test this out extensively at 630, and definitely have room for it at 720. It could be a good option for smaller cubes trying to maximize slot equity by having their Baneslayers and Mulldrifters taking up the same slots too. So in small cubes without the real estate to fully flesh out the roles with multiple cards, this card could be an interesting way to save design space.

    Etali, Primal Conqueror

    A value fatty that transforms into a Blightsteel Colossus!

    What I Like: I think this card is easy to overlook, but a 7-mana 7/7 trample that immediately casts two random nonland spells is nothing to scoff at. Note that it’s an ETB trigger, not a cast trigger, so you get that value when this monster is cheated into play, reanimated or thrown in by Sneak Attack. It’s also a super fun ability, because you get to cast random spells, and you get to cast your opponent’s spells! Also, once you have the mana, this just transforms into a monster that kills your opponent in one swing.

    What I Don't Like: Real estate in the cube is tight, and it can be hard to find room for cards that are limited in the number of decks they can go into. This will be one of the better monsters to cheat out, but without being green (on the front half) for Natural Order or an artifact for Tinker, it’s tough to find cuts in red for a card that has limited uses.

    Verdict: If you want another good fatty to cheat and sneak onto the battlefield, and you can find the space for Etali, it’s probably worth a look. For me, I think that would be at 630.

    Rona, Herald of Invasion

    The god of Merfolk Looters.

    What I Like: If you’re one of the folks that considers Merfolk Looter to be a competitive cube card in today’s era, check out this creature! It’s better in at least like 3 different ways. It has a 1/3 body so it can play defense against aggressive beaters while you loot during your opponent’s endstep. It gets to untap itself every time you play another legend for more free loots, and it can transform into a 5/5 trampling monster in the lategame so that your early filtering card can continue to be useful as the game goes long.

    What I Don't Like: The only real issue is space. As a defensive looting engine looking to be played in control, we already have access to JVP. And this card isn’t engineered to apply early pressure in tempo like some of the other playable 2cc looting variants. If you can find space for this card, I’m sure it will play well. The issue will be finding room for more defensive looters.

    Verdict: This is a good card. If you have a window for it, it’s worth testing out. I think this is a safe inclusion for 630+ sized cubes, and definitely in smaller cubes too if your blue (and/or Dimir) section isn’t dedicating its 2cc creature slots to tempo creatures and spells matters cards.

    Borborygmos and Fblthp

    Temur midrange value beater.

    What I Like: Temur card options leave a lot to be desired. So one that’s a 5-mana 6/5 that generates value (not just on ETB, but also on every combat step) that can impact the board and protect itself, I take notice. It plays well in Wildfire sells since it drops a 5-toughness creature onto the board on curve in front of it, and it also plays well in decks that can take advantage of the discarded lands (via Loam/Crucible effects and the like). On both ETB and attack, it either draws a card or loots and blasts a creature. The discard is a may, so you can just use it to draw if you don’t have lands or good targets. The lack of trample hurts a bit, but since it can lootblast chump-blockers, it’s not too significant an issue. You can also tuck BaF back into your library to protect it from death in threat-light decks.

    What I Don't Like: In today’s era, I would’ve loved to have seen flash, haste, or trample as abilities inside its color identity, though I can see that at 5 mana, it would’ve likely made it too good. The tuck ability would’ve been sweet if it was able to be activated with a non-mana cost, like life or discard or mill or something.

    Verdict: This card has been playing quite well as both a decent sized beater and a value engine with options. I think it has the potential to be the best Temur card in the cube if you support midrange decks, and I plan on giving it extended testing in that slot at 540 to see for myself.

    Guardian of Ghirapur

    A new Flickerwisp variant.

    What I Like: This card is close to Flickerwisp in design. It exchanges the ability to hit any permanent (limiting it to just your cards, and only creatures/artifacts) for a better mana cost and 3 toughness. If you’re looking for a 3/3 flying creature that can re-trigger ETB effects and untap blockers when racing, you’re in luck!

    What I Don't Like: Flickerwisp’s trigger is SO much more valuable than Guardian’s is …this will likely do well less than half of the stuff its predecessor gets used for, and that might hurt is longevity in the cube.

    Verdict: In my opinion, this is worse than Flickerwisp. BUT, it’s still a 3/3 flying for 3 mana that can do some of the same things, so I think it’s wort a trial run to see how useful this version of the effect is. At 540, I’m planning on testing out both for a while.

    Bloodfeather Phoenix

    An evasive red beater.

    What I Like: Red is in the market for a cheap evasive threat, and has been forever. Phoenix is the first red creature that always has 2 power and always has flying that costs less than 3 mana. It will be good at applying pressure to ‘walkers, good at getting in for the last points of damage, and good at carrying equipment. But more importantly, the Phoenix can recur itself! Every time you aim burn at the opponent’s face, you can get Phoenix back from the ‘yard (with haste!) for one mana. That increases the range of your endgame reach by quite a bit, and lowers the threshold where your opponent’s life total is safe. Lastly, the 2nd toughness allows it to attack into Thopters and Spirits and the like without trading down.

    What I Don't Like: It would be nice if it could block, which would expand the number of decks it would be playable in, but I understand why it can’t.

    Verdict: I think this is a safe inclusion for 540, and I could see testing it out in smaller lists too if you have a particularly robust burn package available.

    Faerie Mastermind

    A draws matter tempo creature.

    What I Like: Punishing draw has never been so cheap! 2-power, flying, and flash for 2 mana is a recipe for a good tempo creature. Add in the ability to punish your opponent for drawing cards and an activated ability that has synergy with itself and several other cube cards and you’ve got a recipe for a good creature. There’s a lot of incidental draw in the cube for Mastermind to trigger off of, and if not, you always have the ability to activate this at the end of your opponent’s turn to draw two cards while only giving up one. With any number of the other draws matter cards in the cube (Sheoldred, Hullbreacher, Notion Thief, etc.) you can make the effect completely asymmetrical and/or boost its impact.

    What I Don't Like: I wish it had the “if an opponent would draw outside of their draw step” templating on it instead so that I could draw off their instant-speed effects, but that’s asking a hell of a lot from a 2-drop with flash. Also, an activation cost of 2U would’ve made it immediately valuable on curve, and a good 5cc play at their EOT. But again, that’s kinda nit-picky.

    Verdict: As a tempo creature alone, it’s a safe inclusion in the 540-630 range. But if you also support the Leovold “draws matter” package, it becomes playable in even smaller lists. This is a good creature with a cool design.

    Rampaging Raptor

    A red …Questing Beast variant?

    What I Like: 4-mana 4/4 trample haste is a good recipe for pressuring the opponent at the top of your aggressive curve, and also for applying pressure to ‘planeswalkers. Doubly so with this design, since it also damages ‘walkers (or Battles) every time it damages your opponent. This allows you to continue to apply pressure to your opponent’s life total and clear ‘walkers from their board simultaneously. But wait, there’s more! Raptor also has firebreathing, which will allow it to attack for 6 or 8 (with trample) on subsequent turns (or if flooded) and really apply pressure. Raptor is a great design that competes with red’s other 4cc aggressive curve-toppers well. As a lone post-sweeper threat, Raptor’s hard to beat.

    What I Don't Like: There are a lot of good options for these kinds of cards now, and you have to decide which of the design upsides have the most relevance to your playgroup. I personally think Raptor is near the top of that list, but other groups may have a hard time finding room.

    Verdict: I think there’s room for Raptor and the other usual suspects at 540, but I could see this replacing one of those options and cracking some 450 lists as well. It’s a good creature.

    Chrome Host Seedshark

    A grindy spells matters monster.

    What I Like: Most of the spells matters engines are best suited for tempo decks with a more aggressive slant to them. The Shark is best suited to generating value in midrange and control shells with slightly more expensive support cards. Poppet Stitcher is a recently-printed comparison that we can draw from. This card has a 2/4 flying base body for the same cost instead of a plain 2/3. The incubated tokens are slower, but are better overall since they can block and they can be bigger. Shark won’t be ideal when churning exclusively through 1-mana cantrips, but when it’s making bears, watchwolves or bigger threats, the tokens are such higher impact creatures. It also triggers off of all noncreature cards instead of just instants and sorceries. This is a big deal, since it triggers off all ‘walkers too, making it produce valuable-sized threats in creature-light control shells. It’s important to note that it triggers off of and produces artifacts, so it can be a nice supporting cast member in the artifact.dec. Pay extra attention to the bigger cards that can produce mana or untap lands right away. Garruk, Te5eri, Nissa, Chandra, Treachery, and all the 4+mv mana rocks can make a big (4/4+ sized) incubator and transform it in the same round. Not to mention all the free spells and spells that get their mana paid for in other ways (Dig Through Time, Snuff Out, Baleful Mastery, Lethal Scheme, Force of Will, Fireblast, etc.) can pair extremely well with the Shark. Needing to pay mana to transform the tokens is a bummer, but it’s not always a bad thing. You can cast your Wrath effects without losing your freshly made threat, and get access to a 4/4 beater on a future turn.

    What I Don't Like: I wish this played better with Baubles and Cantrips. 2-mana 1/1s are …bad.

    Verdict: If you support creature-light midrange and control decks that are heavy on spells, Shark is worth a spin. I look forward to a spells matters support card that plays well without exclusively proactive spells; Shark is good in reactive draw-go control decks in addition to ‘walker-heavy midrange shells too. I think this card can be tested at 450 without too much of a problem if you play the kinds of decks that it can shine in.

    Thanks for taking the time to read through the article! Feel free to post your comments here for discussion and share your feedback.

    Cheers, and happy cubing! Smile
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