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  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty (NEO) cards for the cube!
    Thank you! And thanks for pointing that out. I saw protection in the list of imprintable abilities and reached for the stars, lol. I'll edit that bit out to avoid confusion for anyone else. Cheers mate.
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  • posted a message on Set (P)review - My top 20 Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty (NEO) cards for the cube!
    Hello again fellow cube enthusiasts!

    This is my 41st installment of the "top 20" set (P)review articles! And as an aside, this article marks 10 full years of writing (P)review articles for each Standard-legal set that Wizards releases. Thanks to all of the support you folks have provided over the years; your feedback and encouragement is what inspires me to continue to make cube content! 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 (and now retired!) 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

    Kamigawa: Neon Dynasty looks to be an intriguing set for cubes. The set features a new mechanic in Reconfigure that allows artifact creatures to double as equipment, and also revisits Sagas and Channel; two mechanics that provide both value and flexibility. There are a lot of cards from NEO that play well in specific archetypes that some cube managers explore; artifact-centric decks, vehicle subthemes, enchantments-matters decks, delve-heavy lists, and delirium subthemes will be given a lot of tools that aren’t explored to their full capacities in this article. In addition, there are a ton of spectacular common and uncommon cards in this set for rarity-limited cubes, and both pauper and peasant lists will get quite a few gifts. Per usual, this article will be directed more at traditional powered and unpowered cube lists without rarity or powerlevel restrictions, so if you read this article and some of your favorite cards from the set don’t appear, keep that in mind.

    Without further ado, here’s the countdown!

    Fable of the Mirror-Breaker // Reflection of Kiki-Jiki

    A red value 3-drop.

    What I Like: For your 3 mana investment, you get a 2/2 that makes treasures, a double-rummage trigger, and a 2/2 engine that can cheaply and repeatedly copy ETB creatures for value. It also has some fringe combo support, going infinite with a mana dork and Intruder Alarm, for example. Thanks to MTGS user opterown for creating discussion around this card, because it is certainly an intriguing set of abilities on a 3-mana card.

    What I Don't Like: I would’ve liked to see at least one small improvement in order to really push this over the top. A 3rd toughness on the treasure body would make this a better defensive card and make the treasure generation more reliable. Looting instead of rummaging would’ve made the second mode on the saga a lot more powerful. Most importantly, giving the Kiki token haste would’ve increased the speed of the effect, and made it significantly more powerful.

    Verdict: If you have deep ETB/Blink support in your cube and/or you’re looking for more fringe Temur creature combo decks with Intruder Alarm, this is a cool card for your cube. Without any of those things, I think this just falls short of making the cut for the reasons I detailed above.

    Hotshot Mechanic

    A 2-power 1-drop for artifact/vehicle decks.

    What I Like: The baseline of being a 2-power 1-drop will allow this to function decently in any WW or W/x aggro deck. Additionally, if you support artifact aggro with Toolcraft Exemplars and Arcbound Ravagers and stuff, this card being an artifact will allow it to slot right in perfectly. Lastly, if your cube has a small vehicle subtheme present in it, this card crews as if it were 4 power, making pretty much every cubeable vehicle crewable by just this one card.

    What I Don't Like: Without artifact aggro or vehicle support, this is just a Savannah Lions that dies to shatter effects, making it worse than all the other options that we already have for white.

    Verdict: If artifact aggro/affinity/vehicles is a thing your cube wants to do, this card is a slam dunk. If you don’t, it’s a pretty clear miss. Not much more complicated than that.

    Lizard Blades

    A cheap double-striker with reconfigure!

    What I Like: Cheap double strikers are relatively rare, and so are affordable sources of providing double strike to other creatures. Lizard Blades is both. In cubes that feature themes that boost creatures’ power in red (or red-adjacent) strategies, like auras, combat tricks, or +1/+1 counter themes, this card will be able to hit really hard as a 2cc threat. Additionally, if you support R/x midrange decks with medium-costed, high power monsters, the ability to reconfigure your Lizard into making threats that can bash for like 8, 10, or 12 is nothing to scoff at. This Lizard will bring the spice for several different shells.

    What I Don't Like: I really wish the reconfigure brought the +1/+1 along with the double strike, even if that would mean changing the reconfigure cost to making this possible. Lizard is a cool target for things like Stoneforge and the recruiters, and it would be really nice if you could reconfigure onto those tutor bodies and allow them to bash for 4. An extra power would also add a lot more value to the first strike portion of the double strike.

    Verdict: If you play red midrange decks with monsters that benefit big from the double strike or support themes that reliably boost your creature power, this card is certainly worth a test. As a generic inclusion, I think this is testable at 630+ and would make for a fine generic inclusion at 720 or so.

    Otawara, Soaring City

    An island with a bounce spell stapled to it.

    What I Like: You could write an entire article about “basic lands with upsides” that I don’t have the time to get into here in this article, but needless to say, cards like this are good. The opportunity cost of playing this in your deck is next to nothing, and there are always windows where the spell side of the effect will provide value. What we have to do is try to decipher what that value is worth. MDFCs made us evaluate what spells stapled to lands are worth in the cube, and I developed a decent guide/recipe during testing that has served as a decent approximate litmus test of sorts for quick evaluations. After extensive MDFC testing, I determined that having a tapped land attached to my spell as an option was worth approximately one mana (meaning that if the spell was overcosted by one mana, it was worth it to pay that “tax” in order to get access to the land mode when needed). The untapped land MDFCs proved to be worth slightly more than that because of the nature of the land being able to enter untapped, and those were worth about a mana and a half. My estimate with these lands, since they enter untapped with no drawback, is that they’ll be worth approximately 2 mana on the spell side in order to have access to the low opportunity cost land option. Getting back to Otarwa, I evaluated it based on the Channel effect’s cost, and asked myself if I would play that as a spell in my deck if it costed 2 less mana, and the answer is …probably not. But there is the legendary cost reduction clause, so it’s close. One of the things that I like about this card is that the wording on the bounce spell doesn’t say “nonland” permanent, and by listing creature specifically, it allows you to bounce activated manlands for a very powerful tempo play, and defending yourself and/or your ‘walkers is a good thing for blue control decks to be able to do.

    What I Don't Like: I would’ve liked to see this effect have a static 3-mana cost instead of 4, because I think the channel effect is just slightly overpriced to the point where this card won’t be picked from a pack for my deck unless I’ve already hit my playables and I have no other more important nonland improvements to make. In constructed, you have no real cost to playing this card over an island in a lot of decks/situations. But in the cube, there’s a real cost to taking up a cube slot in order to get access to this kind of spell. The threshold for a utility land being a great inclusion in the cube is quite a bit higher than simply being capable of replacing a basic land during deckbuilding. And the threshold for lands like this that are either lands OR spells needs to be set higher than cards like Karakas or Manlands, which can provide both their land effect and their non-land effect in the same game.

    Verdict: Don’t get me wrong, this card (and all cards like it) are good. The opportunity cost is low and the effect can be situationally valuable enough to make it worth replacing a basic land with it a lot of the time. However, the cube slot it eats up is very valuable, and there’s a real cost to that. And I think the bounce spell is just slightly too expensive to excite drafters, even with the untapped land option being available. Certainly testable at 630+, and the card will assuredly play well if you can afford dedicating a cube slot to it. There exists a recipe for determining how much you’re willing to overpay for a spell in order to have the flexibility of the land added to it, and that recipe will change for each cube manager. For me, on this kind of land, I approximate the value at two mana. Which ultimately means this channel effect is ever so slightly overcosted for me and my playgroup.

    March of Otherworldly Light

    New instant-speed, exile-based removal for white.

    What I Like: This removal spell is splashable, it’s an instant, it exiles, and it hits multiple permanent types. It can still be used to blast power and good tokens for 1 mana. While it requires you to overpay whenever you hardcast it, it does have a pitch option to allow you to trade up in mana if you’re willing to trade down in cards. There are a lot of good 0-2cmc targets that this can remove for a reasonable mana investment, and there are some scary 3-4cc must-answer threats in the cube that are certainly worth pitching an extra card to deal with them quickly.

    What I Don't Like: I really wish the mana discount for pitching cards to it was higher, because I can definitely see situations where I’d want a 3-mana discount to make it feel worth a full card. This also can’t hit planeswalkers, which is a bummer because being able to pay 2 mana and pitch a card to kill an Oko on T2 after my opponent elf’d into it is an important thing to be able to do. It obviously would’ve been great if it counted the value as “the amount of mana spent on casting the spell” so it could trade across, but the card would’ve very likely been too good if it was templated that way.

    Verdict: I think this is a decent removal spell in cubes that expect to face down powerful early permanents, and adding power to the pool of targets is important in its evaluation. I think this is a testable card at 630 for powered cubes, and might make a decent 720 inclusion. However, I think it’s probably a bit to slow and inefficient when dealing with higher CMC permanents, and it might not make for a good unpowered inclusion for that reason.

    Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance

    Red’s “better than a basic” land/spell hybrid card.

    What I Like: If your cube supports a deep token theme and/or a Polymorph package, this land is really solid. It provides multiple bodies, 2 total power, haste, instant speed, and uncounterability. For a card that takes up a land slot when deckbuilding, that’s a decent suite of abilities to have access to. This effect is at least worth a card, so you maintain card parity after the exchange, adding 2 power to the board at instant speed is a fine floor when you’d otherwise be playing an unwanted land. This can be fun with cards like Wrenn and Six too, where it can provide you with a bottomless stream of additional tokens, and you can grind out wins with that combination and make an anthem effect of sorts.

    What I Don't Like: 4 mana is a lot for even the most improved of Krenko’s Commands. If this means I get to untap and Transmogrify a token into an Emrakul, sign me up. But if I’m playing this at face value, this is simply too expensive for me to get excited about.

    Verdict: You can read the entry for Otarwa for my evaluation of this land cycle overall, but this is another one I feel is slightly too overcosted to make it in at face value unless I’m supporting the specific shells where it can shine or my cube is big enough to have the real estate available for a card like this.

    Junji, the Midnight Sky

    A scary black 5-drop.

    What I Like: A 5/5 flying menace for 5 mana is a good start to a midrange monster’s stat line, and providing multiple death trigger options that both lead to value is really nice. Being able to pseudo-Bligntning the opponent when it dies is pretty scary, and being able to exchange itself for another threat can be a nightmare for the opponent. This is especially powerful with an effect like Recurring Nightmare or Feldon where you can get multiple triggers a turn. I like this card in decks with Languish and Wildfire because the body and the abilities are both valuable in those shells. This is a safe combination between a Baneslayer kind of creature that has great stats for the mana and a Mulldrifter creature that can provide value for your investment…

    What I Don't Like: …unless of course it gets exiled. Paying 5 mana to walk into exile-based removal will feel pretty bad since you get no value in return, and there’s a decent amount of exile in the cube nowadays. If this was a leaves play trigger, it would be less vulnerable to bounce and exile removal, and I’d feel a lot more comfortable spending 5 mana on a card that provides no immediate value.

    Verdict: If you’re willing to gamble a 5-mana investment on a creature, this is as good a reason to do so that we’ve seen. I’d test this out at 630 or so and see how it does, but I can’t find a good home for it in my current 540 configuration.

    Touch the Spirit Realm

    A cool new o-ring variant.

    What I Like: This card is a hybrid between an Oblivion Ring and a Momentary Blink. It’s worse at one of those jobs than the comparable cards, but the fact that it can do both adds value in its versatility. If blink is a thing you support heavily in your cube, it may be worth trying this over one of the o-ring variants to shoehorn in additional blink effects.

    What I Don't Like: Not hitting enchantments or planeswalkers is a big drawback in comparison to the o-ring effects, and while the uncounterability is nice, costing 2 mana to blink something is a bit too expensive. I would’ve loved to see one small improvement to this card in one of its functions. Perhaps giving the enchantment flash would help shore up the loss of targets in o-ring form. Making the blink only cost one mana would’ve made it far more interesting as a blink enabler. Making it a full o-ring effect but changing the base cost to 1WW is another interesting direction the card could’ve gone. But as is, I feel like it falls slightly short.

    Verdict: If you’re looking for a way to make some of the o-ring variants slightly more interesting or if you heavily support blink in your cube and you need the extra enabler, this is a card you could try and find room for. But I think this is just worse enough than o-ring that the card probably won’t make it in on its own merits without a blink package to support.

    Eiganjo, Seat of the Empire

    The white channel land.

    What I Like: Like the others, the opportunity cost (once it’s in your deckbuilding pool) is next to zero. And being able to blast an attacking creature with one of your lands is a nice thing for white control decks to be able to do if they don’t need the land drop.

    What I Don't Like: Damaging blocking creatures doesn’t help push damage efficiently, so this effect won’t be great in aggro. And as a reactive control spell, it’s quite overpriced at 3 mana.

    Verdict: Just like the previous two lands in this cycle I discussed, this land is great if you can find the room, but just overpriced enough to limit my excitement. I wouldn’t actively take this from a pack unless there’s nothing else for me to take, but it can replace a plains from my deck with it once I have access to the card. So it’s got that going for it, which is nice.

    Rabbit Battery

    The energizer bunny.

    What I Like: This is a good Fires enabler for cubes that support those kinds of shells. Midrange R/x decks featuring decently powerful midgame threats will be able to take great advantage of the haste, and have the mana available to continually repay the reconfigure cost. It’ll likely be able to chip in for a few points of damage in the early game too, since this is quite the Raging Goblin variant.

    What I Don't Like: Raging Goblins on their own are quite anemic, and aggro curves have gotten so tight over the years that the reconfigure cost in your curve will be problematic until the endgame stages are reached. I love what this can do for my midrange monsters, but I’m less optimistic about its performance in all-in mono red aggro.

    Verdict: R/x monster midrange decks have one of the best Fires variants we’ve seen. If that’s a deck your cube supports, you should certainly jam this creature and see how it does. It’s not for me or my playgroup, but I’ve drafted a lot of cube decks from other lists where this little creature would be quite monstrous.

    Takenuma, Abandoned Mire

    The black channel land.

    What I Like: Once this card is in your 45 card pile, it adds some nice utility to your decks. It feeds the yard, and then brings back threats. Unlike other cards if its ilk, this one can bring planeswalkers back too! In decks with critical build-around creatures and planeswalkers, this will be a nice way to secure access to them if they die off.

    What I Don't Like: 4 mana is a lot for an effect like this, even with the ‘walker grabbing clause and the mill. While the opportunity cost of playing it is next to zero once it’s in your pool, I can’t imaging taking this from a pack over something else unless your deck revolves around a specific creature or ‘walker to win games and you’re looking for a cheap insurance policy.

    Verdict: Again, just like the other channel lands, this is an easy card to find room for in your final 40, and a hard card to find room for in your cube. But if you do manage to find room, it’ll play perfectly well. I would test this card at 630 or 720 at face value, and potentially include it in smaller cubes if you support creature-based combo shells where the raise dead can provide critical value.

    Containment Construct

    A cheap value beater.

    What I Like: 2 colorless mana for a 2/1 is a good baseline for a creature that has a ton of available synergy and can generate massive amounts of value. There are a lot of cards that discard cards in the cube for various effects, and they become quite powerful if the drawback is mitigated by an effect like this. Using a simple example like a Faithless Looting can illustrate what the card can do, since you can pitch land/spell as your discards, exile them to Construct, and then play them both, essentially turning your Looting into a 1-mana draw 2 with flashback of …draw 2 more. And there are tons of similar examples. What I like most is that the exile effect is optional, so cards that are critical for the yard can go there, and you don’t have to exile anything you don’t intend to play for value. And the word play instead of cast is critical, since you can play discarded lands for value. Combo decks utilizing cards like Lions Eye Diamond can really break this card, and I look forward to seeing what people unlock with this in constructed.

    What I Don't Like: Unless you can pair it with other effects and use it to “go off”, the creature itself is simply a 2/1 for 2 mana. Maybe a fringe playable in an aggro shell with some discard synergy, but nothing too exciting anywhere else. It dies to so much removal that it’s going to prove quite fragile for decks that rely on it for the discard value. It would be nice if the exiled cards could be played until the beginning of your next end step so that cards discarded on my opponent’s turn could be exiled and played on my following turn, but that’s a lot to ask.

    Verdict: With enough combo support and discard effects, I think this card could prove to be quite good, even in smaller cubes. At face value with only incidental discard synergy, I would personally play this card in the 630/720 range. I expect someone to do something silly with this card in constructed, and there may be some crossover synergy to explore in the cube in the future. Any long-time readers of my content will know that I like to keep a close eye on 2+ power creatures for 2 mana that can generate card advantage, and this card is no exception.

    Kumano Faces Kakkazan // Etching of Kumano

    An interesting red aggro 1-drop.

    What I Like: I want to thank Mangolassi and steve_man for showcasing the math behind this card and how it compares to generic 2-power 1-drops. There are basically 3 scenarios that can occur with this card, and each results in slightly different damage outputs. With no creature on T2 to benefit from the +1/+1 counter part of the saga, the damage scales are 1(1), +0(1), +2(3), +2(5) for a total of 5 damage by end of combat on T4. This is behind where a generic Savannah Lion clone would be, since a random Lion would have attacked for 6 by the same time. However, if you do play a creature on T2 and put a +1/+1 counter on it, the damage scales look like this 1(1), +0(1), +3(4), +3(7) for a total of 7 damage, putting you ahead of a random Lion. Now, the 3rd scenario showcases what happens if that +1/+1 counter winds up on a haste creature on T2, and the damage scales are 1(1), +1(2), +3(5), +3(8) for a total of 8 damage …which is not only better than a Lion, but it’s on par with Goblin Guide. Not to mention that You might get some random exile value from Kumano, and might randomly be able to ping ‘walkers when it’s drawn late in the game for extra value.

    What I Don't Like: I don’t like the inconsistent nature of the damage output on the card, since it telegraphs the creature play and makes it more likely to have the opponent force spike your 2-drop and you’d be better off with any random 2-power 1-drop instead. Additionally, there’s no body on the board the turn after you play this, so you can’t take full advantage of Rancors and Bonesplitters the same way you could if this produced an actual creature right away. It also is much worse defensively since it doesn’t create a blocker in racing situations. Lastly, the card can be disenchanted in its early window and stop you from getting the creature altogether.

    Verdict: Ultimately I prefer the consistency of the traditional 2-power 1-drop creature, but I certainly see the appeal of trying something more interesting like this over something a little more boring. I would be happy adding this to any 630+ card cube just for the 2-power 1-drop variant density, and I think it’s worth testing even in smaller cubes if the traditional aggro creature suite has grown a bit stale.

    The Wandering Emperor

    A solid 4cc ‘walker with a flashy twist!

    What I Like: Flash on a planeswalker with one instant-speed activation is a really cool design, and I’m glad they’re exploring the space. This has some decent options, playing it as a combat trick for the {+1} granting first strike and the +1/+1 counter, using the {-1} flash in a surprise blocker, or using it as a defensive removal spell with the {-2} removal + lifegain option. The typical play pattern will make a defensive body, untap and make another body, and you’ll have 4-power worth of vigilant creatures on the table for 4 mana and a planeswalker body left behind threatening to buff those vigilant tokens and ultimately generate more value. It’s a good recipe.

    What I Don't Like: Killing tapped creatures is a bummer because I can’t use it proactively to remove their freshly cast blocker to allow me to beat down. Good on defense, but limited on offense. I also really wish the tokens had first strike, since they make much better surprise blockers that way, and the vigilance and the flash don’t have much in the way of natural synergy. I would’ve given the first strike to the tokens, and added the “vigilance” kind of effect to the +1/+1 counter {+1} by reworking it to “put a +1/+1 counter on up to 1 target creature and untap it” …that way the ability could still be used as an offensive combat trick, but defensively I could untap an existing creature and surprise block something while growing her loyalty! I liked my redesigned ‘walker so much that it made me like the actual card less, lol.

    Verdict: This is a very solid planeswalker, and will compare just fine against the current suite of ‘walkers in white. I’ll be continuing to test it and keep my eye on it, but my gut tells me that it’s slightly weaker than the existing options in the 4cc ‘walker slot for white, and will therefore just miss the cut for me at 540. I’d play this at 630+ though, and I’d also encourage extensive testing at cubes of all sizes, because there’s a lot to unpack with this design.

    Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh

    A mono blue Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas variant.

    What I Like: There’s a lot to unpack with this new Tezzeret. First off, the static ability reducing the activation costs on artifacts works well in the cube from allowing Signets to activate for free, to reducing equip costs, to making Monoliths cheaper to untap. The {+1} is a more consistently valuable way to generate draw advantage with Tezz, and it also feeds robots to the ‘yard for Welder and Feldon, and tucks your Blightsteel for Tinker. The {-2} ability isn’t quite as good as the one on the Dimir variant, but making 4/4 creatures from your random artifacts is no joke. And obviously the ultimate is going to be godly powerful in any kind of artifact-centric build.

    What I Don't Like: If you don’t support the artifact.dec, this isn’t going to cut it as a generic value ‘walker.

    Verdict: Over time, I expect Tezz’s static ability to get better and better as new artifact abilities get added to the cube, so you’ll have to keep an eye out for that in the future. If you support the artifact.dec in the cube, this card is definitely a testable card at 540, and a very includable one at 630+. Of all the cards I’m in the process of testing right now that haven’t already broken into my list, this is the one I expect to do the best and join the cube the soonest.

    Twinshot Sniper

    A Fire Imp with a facelift.

    What I Like: Fellow cube enthusiast Zolthux over on Twitter pointed out that this is kinda like red’s Shriekmaw variant. And I think that description is perfect. We don’t want a sorcery speed Terror, and a 5cc 2-for-1 is nothing to write home about nowadays, but Shriekmaw continues to perform well because the flexibility of being both of those things provides a lot of value. Similarly, Sniper has a pair of options that are both a bit lackluster, but being rolled up into the same package makes it appetizing. The uncounterable 2cc Shock can be channeled at instant speed, which is nice. And unlike cards like Fire Imp and Flametongue Kavu, Sniper isn’t limited to only targeting creatures; you can hit planeswalkers and players too! It’s an artifact, so it gains some additional synergies with Welders and the like. It’s got a solid, valuable ETB trigger so it’ll play nicely with Feldon, Vat, Nightmare, and all the other blink cards. You can bin both a creature and an artifact to the ‘yard for delirium while essentially playing the card like an instant. This card can blast any lion, piker or bear in the cube for 2 mana and it can’t be countered, or it can be a savage roadblock against aggressive strategies by giving you a 2/3 body with reach to stonewall cheap threats, while also blasting one when it enters play! It’s also an okay target for Imperial Recruiter if you need to stave off some aggression or blast the last two points of loyalty off a ‘walker.

    What I Don't Like: Both modes are lackluster, so the card will never feel tremendous when you resolve it, despite the flexibility it provides. And a 2/3 reach is not the model figure for a lot of red decks; aggro will long for a different base body.

    Verdict: This isn’t a red card for all-in aggro decks, but it is a good red card for most other red goodstuff shells. It has artifact.dec interactions, blink/bounce synergy, Recruiter play, Nightmare reach, and a lot of flexibility as a splashable value card. I wouldn’t be surprised if this wound up playing better than FTK in red value shells. I’m playing this at 540, and it might very well be testable at 450. I think this is a very solid inclusion for almost all medium-sized cubes.

    Eater of Virtue

    A new Bonesplitter variant!

    What I Like: Bonesplitter is still a very solid cube performer, and in a lot of situations, Eater of Virtue will be the same thing but better. If you’re fortunate enough to exile a valuable keyword onto Eater with one of your early creatures, all your future threats will gain a noteable advantage. Things like haste, flying, first strike, and menace all look to be quite promising. Stapling this to a Goblin Guide on T2 and providing every future creature with +2 power and haste will be no joke. There are approximately 20 keywords in my cube spread across 1- and 2-cc creatures that are ready to be imprinted onto Eater early on; check your cube's numbers for consistency.

    What I Don't Like: Oh how I wish the exile clause was a “may”. Being forced to exile the creatures when they die impacts aggro decks of all colors more than people might think. White loses ‘lark and Reclamation targets. Blue loses delve fuel. Red loses Lavamancer fuel, hurts delirium, and nerfs Khenra. Green loses targets for Eternal Witness and the like. Now some of those drawbacks are negligible and some are meaningful, but what we know for sure is how the drawback hurts black aggro. I have 10+ aggro cards in black that get completely neutered by the mandatory exile, and that includes the majority of the competitive aggro creature suite. This will meaningfully limit the number of decks that can take full advantage of Eater, and it might wind up being the odd card out if there’s too much collateral damage. Plus, you need to factor in the consistency issues the upside will face. How often will your earliest equip target have one of the keywords this copies, die, have you reequip to a new target, and have that ability be relevant to the outcome of the game? It will happen, but I don’t know if it’ll happen as often as the mandatory exile interferes with my own gameplan.

    Verdict: I think this card loses about as much as it gains in comparison to Bonesplitter, which is to say, I’m happy to include it because Bonesplitter is still a great cube card! I’m bummed that the card has a lot of nonbos with black aggro (because black aggro decks are quite popular in my playgroup) but the card will still be a very solid performer in the cube. I’m going to be playing this card at 540, and I encourage people to test this at smaller sizes too, especially if they don’t play a lot of cards that are negatively impacted by the mandatory exile.

    Lion Sash

    Scavenging Ooze in equipment form? Sign me up.

    What I Like: In comparison to Scavenging Ooze, this card exchanges the lifegain for the ability to grow off of exiling any permanent card instead of just creatures. Sash resolves as a 1/1 instead of a 2/2, but has the ability to be reconfigured onto a creature. It’s also a great target for Stoneforge and the Recruiters because it will have value long into the endgame. As the game progresses, this will provide a good source of graveyard hate (which can still be activated whether it’s in creature mode or equipment mode), it will help keep cheap threats relevant, and prevent overextension.

    What I Don't Like: I would’ve loved for this to resolve as a 2/2, provide the bast +1/+1 as a bonus to the equipped creature and/or activate with colorless mana. But all of those improvements are unnecessary because the card looks pretty solid to me and I’m happy to have access to more maindeckable graveyard hate and additional Stoneforge targets.

    Verdict: I think this card looks pretty strong. Maybe a bit slow to get going, but on par with Ooze in terms of midgame expectations and play patterns. I’m going to happily jam this at 540, and I would expect it to play quite well at 450 too, and perhaps even smaller if graveyard hate is a needed commodity.

    Blade of the Oni

    A menacing threat.

    What I Like: 3 power + menace for 2 is a very good baseline. You attack until the opponent can provide resistance, and you reconfigure this onto another body to provide a 5/5 menace attacker. It’s a simple recipe that will work well in black aggro’s worst matchups where it runs into medium-sized defensive midrange bodies. Once the equipped creature dies (to either mass removal or by trading off in combat with their biggest threat) you’ll be left with a 3-power evasive threat on the board, and still be in good shape.

    What I Don't Like: It would’ve been nice if the reconfigure was 3 mana instead of 4 or didn’t require the double black. It would’ve helped apply more consistent pressure on the draw or allowed Blade to function as a tool for decks that aren’t heavy black.

    Verdict: Happy to jam this into my 540, and I would encourage all cubes that support aggressive black decks to give this a shot, even in smaller lists. Simple, powerful play patterns, and good, efficient pressure.

    Boseiju, Who Endures

    The green channel land.

    What I Like: The activation cost on this land is cheap, and it allows the deckbuilder to shoehorn in additional answers to powerful, must-answer cards. The channel is only 2 mana (or less), and it’s uncounterable. Decks lose games to cards like Moat, Opposition, Jitte, Treachery …hell even Animate Dead effects can cost you the game without a quick answer. You can get your threats back from underneath O-Rings, kill Torrential Gearhulk bodies, or even wipe out manlands after their controllers have paid to activate them. You can extract extra value from Loam/W&6 types of cards, and answer multiple critical threats as needed. And, as always, this can still be played as an untapped land if needed. And then picked up by Meloku/Venser/Skyfisher and used as a critical Naturalize if necessary. 2 mana is a cost I’m willing to pay to have access to an effect like this on what equates to a basic land. Next to no opportunity cost, and an effect that can save you from losing a game to some of the most broken cards in the cube.

    What I Don't Like: The land the opponent gets enters untapped, and it can be a nonbasic land if it has one of the land types on it. That makes it really hard to use this card to break up mana fixing, and pretty ineffective and dealing with mana rocks.

    Verdict: Unless your cube bans cards for being too powerful, you likely have broken targets floating around in the cube that Boseiju can help answer for an almost nonexistent opportunity cost. I’m jamming this into my 540, and I’d probably test this out even all the way down into powered 360-card cubes. I think this one’s the real deal.

    Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. Please feel free to comment here or comment over on Twitter, and we can discuss cube!

    Cheers, and happy cubing. Smile
    Posted in: Articles, Podcasts, and Guides
  • posted a message on This or That discussion.
    I'd cut Shadowspear from among those three.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [NEO][CUBE] Containment Construct
    I think this card looks super cool, and it wouldn't surprise me if folks found ways to abuse it in constructed.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on This or That discussion.
    Blasting Station >>>>> Seer > Pit >> the others
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on This or That discussion.
    March ≥ Cast Out

    Treetop >> Lair

    Hall > Shelldock

    Jadelight ≥ Briarbridge

    Stitcher > Svyelun
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [NEO][CUBE] Lion Sash
    I think this looks quite good. It's a way to shoehorn in extra Stoneforge targets, and the card looks quite solid on its own. It can grow pretty large, and will make for a formidable piece of equipment after only a few activations.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [NEO][CUBE] Twinshot Sniper
    I like this card quite a bit. Lots of subtle synergies, flexible casting applications, and it's never dead.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [NEO][CUBE] Tezzeret, Betrayer of Flesh
    This is a worthy consideration if you support artifact-heavy decks. Maybe slightly worse in some dedicated artifact.dec builds then Agent of Bolas, but this card works in decks with slightly fewer artifacts, and it also can discard robots to your 'yard to grab with Welders and Feldon. Cool card.
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [NEO][CUBE] Boseiju, Who Endures
    This one is really good. Thumbs Up
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [NEO][CUBE] Sokenzan, Crucible of Defiance
    Transmogrify decks are in love with this. Grin
    Posted in: Cube Card and Archetype Discussion
  • posted a message on [540][Powered] wtwlf123's Cube
    I still like the effects, it's just a matter of real estate. The damage redirection rule hurt Rolling Earthquakes, and since we have access to cards like Fiery Confluence now, these kinds of effects feel slightly less critical. But I like the redundancy that Earthquake/Tremors add to Moat shells, and I miss that particular application.
    Posted in: Cube Lists
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