Thursday, 30 July 2015

Card Spotlight: Predict

Predict is an old card that has never really seen any sort of play. It is actually just a slightly upgrading version of Foreshadow but these slight difference add up to a lot in the cheaper cards leaving Predict as quite interesting and Foreshadow no so. Predict is somewhere between a Thought Scour and a Think Twice. It is not really a card quality spell and so I do not compare it to Impulse or Lat-Nam's Legacy. That being said you can use it in combination with cards like Ponder and Divinig Top to mill away an unwanted card for that scry feeling. Sometimes Predict is card advantage, and quite good card advantage at that. Other times it is just a cycling card. The mill is nice utility too, especially given that you can target both libraries with it. It saw no play when it was printed because it missed the era of Brainstorm but pre-dated scry and basically all the other good cards that give information about the tops of libraries. Because Predict is such an unused card in the greater MtG community and also somewhat of a minor card it has gone under the radar despite an ever improving meta for it. With the cube being what it is at present, full of scry effects, it felt like Predict would shine so I have been trying it out and with good results.

Thought Scour
Drawing two cards for two mana at instant speed is great. Drawing one card is weak but not unplayable. Milling a card from the top of a library is surprisingly good, both Thought Scour and Mental Note are starting to see play in cube and have both done a lot of work in constructed formats over the years. Mental Note and Thought Scour are more potent at filling up graveyards as they put in more and cost less but they are never generating you direct card advantage. They are narrow cards because they are only worth playing when you have a lot of graveyard recursion effects and delve cards. Predict is worth playing in any deck because it is a potential cheap two for one but it will still help you with any graveyard synergies you might have. As to how playable the card is rather depend on what percentage of the time it will draw two cards rather than one. The playability will be slightly increased by having graveyard synergies and slightly reduced by how much set up is required to guarantee a double draw.

Courser of Kruphix
Obviously the percentage of hitting your Predict is mostly affected by how much scry and manipulation you have in the deck. What is coming as a bit of a surprise is how little of those sorts of things you can get away with and still have Predict be good. Remember that the card isn't ever awful because it cycles and does a marginal mill as well. This means it doesn't have to draw two very often to be an above average card, remember again that drawing two for two mana at instant speed is significantly above the curve in power level. What I have found is that Predict has been hitting two around 90% of the time making it pretty nuts. Yes, it is getting saved a bit so you can lay scry land and cast it rather than just trying to hit raw on turn two. This makes it a little less flexible than a simple two mana instant spell with an effect but still significantly more flexible than the mighty Treasure Cruise. It is cards like Courser of Kruphix, Delver of Secrets and Goblin Guide that provide a little bit of information and are cube staples that have been pushing up the effectiveness of the Predict. For some of those cards you don't even have to be playing them for them to be helping out the Predict and with none of them are you required to spend any mana to glimpse the thing you need to Predict away.

Think TwicePredict is a good card because it gives you choices. I have had situations where I knew the top card of my library but needed that card sufficiently badly to aim a blind Predict at my opponent to likely draw just that one card rather than mill that card and take two unknowns. Blind Predict has pretty low odds of hitting in the cube. Singleton format means you are looking at 1/30is on average outside of basic lands. Good three colour decks in my cube tend to have only one basic so that isn't a great help. In a mono coloured deck you can expect to have odds as good as 1/3 on hitting a blind Predict. Two colour decks probably average 3.5 basics of one colour giving you odds of around 1/10. You can target either player so you have better odds on having a one or two coloured deck to target. Overall I would put the average odds on hitting a blind Predict in a cube game by calling the most sensible basic land type at around 1/8 or 9. Despite the low odds of the blind Predict they are still sufficient to take it from a weak card at a single draw to an average or just above average card. Thus far I would say about 80% of the times I have seen Predict played it has been a guaranteed hit. (the astute reader will have worked out that this means that half of the blind Predicts cast in my testing of the card have been hits which is well above the stated averages, this will come down over time, we have just been quite lucky thus far. The point is more that most of the times it is cast it is known that it will hit and not that we are lucky and have managed an unreasonable 90%ish hit rate).

Having played with and against Predict there is longer any space in my cube for Think Twice. I love Think Twice, I love how it is a cheap, convenient and flexible two for one. I love how it is a card you are happy to mill away or discard and I love that it is generic filler you can play to good effect in loads of decks. Sadly, it is not a cheap two for one. It is a cheap cycling card, should you go two for one with it it has cost you a fortune. If you have the sort of time to spend using five mana just to draw two then you should probably have won the game already.That or you are so desperate that the game is already lost. Think Twice is a more reliable two for one than Predict but it is never in the same league in terms of cost. If you like to draw cards then I highly recommend Predict for your cube.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Classic Control Rock

Phyrexian Plaguelord
I wanted to play some magic rather than create new wonders. The rock is an established archetype, it is pretty even against anything you like and can be built in a myriad of ways. You can get a little creative with it or you can just build good old rock and try and out play people. You rarely ever get run over playing rock however you never really get a free win either. You have to work hard for your wins and so if you want to play magic then the rock is a great choice. The rock is robust but it is fairly slow to respond, you have to carefully plan how you are to do things and how you need to match up your cards against theirs. It is so easy to lose the game because you use the wrong removal spell on a target. The rock gives you slightly less choices each turn that a lot of cube decks however the choices you do get are often very comparable in how they immediately appear so making the right one is key. It will affect you more than with most decks further down the line. Rock games also tend to go on longer than most and so even with fewer choices per turn you will have more to make overall. Rock isn't the hardest deck to play but it is one of the hardest decks to win out with.

Pernicious Deed
This list I have called classic rock because it isn't doing anything that fancy, there isn't much built in synergy. It is just a collection of the best cards in the right ratios. Rock is traditionally a control deck, it usually maintains board control with a presence rather than mass removal like your blue based control decks. It tends to grind down rather than outlast although it has to do both. You can build very aggressive rock decks and some might argue if they deserved the name rock. They will still typically wind up as the control player against white or red based agro decks however and have a lot of similarities to the control rock The two main similarities between aggro and control rock will be found in the one drop drops. As you are light on mass removal you can play mana dorks and gain a huge tempo boost as a result. As you have no blue for countermagic you are vulnerable to spells and typically play some black targeted discard effects. Getting the numbers right on these is hard, too few and you don't get them early when you need them. Too many and you keep drawing them late game where they are far less useful and can cost you games.

This list manages a fairly healthy number of both ramp and discard and it does this by having very few narrow cards elsewhere in the list. There is no Abrupt Decay because it can be pretty dead versus control decks. Deathrite Shaman is like a free one drop mana critter as it does so much else. Tribe-Elder and Liliana also supplement the ramp and discard respectively but perform other roles for the deck.

Den ProtectorAnother strength of the rock, particularly in cube is recursion. This list has two targeted removal spells and the same number of discard. This is not a lot, especially against certain match ups where they can be your most important cards. With the aid of recursion like Eternal Witness you can reuse your important cards in the various match ups you need them in without having to ruin your list in other matchups. Your mana ramp allows you to get away with playing the recursion effects a lot more than other control decks can manage. Recently green has been given a wealth of new tools for the job as well. Den Protector is a fantastic partner for Witness and is potentially better in this list. Tasigur is also arguably slower as a recursion card but given that he is also a beastly threat and easily for a bargain one mana we can forgive him. Bow of Nylea is a little controversial. The recursion is not to hand and as such is only for the really super long games in which it is one of the best cards going, period. While a little costly, it is also good against the super agro decks where 3 life a turn represents a problem. It can protect you against fliers, you need to spot removal the big ones and so cannot afford to do that to anything smaller that flies. With basically no fliers or even reach guys in the list it is really nice to be able to ping things out of the skies with bow. The combat effect from the deathtouch and the +1/+1 counters is also game breaking in midrange matches. All in all it has modes for all kinds of games and is a fantastic control tool. Between these version recursion cards the deck is able to carry on doing what it needs to be doing for as long as it needs to. It is not at all uncommon for you to Maelstrom Pulse three or more times in a single game. This is why the removal in the deck is so expensive, you need it to do a lot of different things and well, you can afford the extra mana but you cannot afford to have a removal spell that doesn't kill a couple of their threats.

Duress23 Spells

Birds of Paradise
Llanowar Elf
Elves Deep Shadow
Deathrite Shaman


Scavenging Ooze
Sakura Tribe Elder
Sylvan Library
Wall of Blossoms

Hero's Downfall
Maelstrom Pulse
Pernicious Deed
Wall of BlossomsBow of Nylea

Courser of Kruphix
Eternal Witness
Den Protector
Liliana of the Veil

Reaper of the Wilds

Vraska the Unseen
Nissa, Worldwaker

Tasigur, the Golden Fang

Garruk, Apex Predator

17 Lands
Garruk, Apex Predator
Treetop Village
Llanowar Wastes
Temple of Malady
Overgrown Tomb

Verdant Catacombs
Twilight Mire
Woodland Cemetery
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Misty Rainforset
Underground Sea

Jungle Hollow
4x Forest

Bow of NyleaI really really wanted Reaper of the Wilds to be a Siege Rhino, fairly unsurprisingly I guess. I felt the deck needed some beefy midrange dork I could just throw down and own the board but that I didn't need to win the game with at all. I considered Thrun, the Last Troll, Polukranos, the World Eater as well as the Reaper but none of them felt even close to as good as Rhino in the slot. Reaper was fine, it did the job, got me a bunch of scry and made me wish I could have more mana up more often. Rhino would have been better. The real issue of going white is that it drastically changes quite a lot of things. Llanowar becomes Noble Hierarch (probably should be anyway!) and potentially even consider Avacyn Pilgrim over the Deepshadow. The mana base also changes if I have access to it and as such that means I probably have to lose the Tribe-Elder. Something like Demonic Tutor would work well in its place, as would Sylvan Caryatid or even a 1 drop ramp dork. Then once you have decent enough white for the Rhino you suddenly think Vindicate over this pulse. Perhaps an Abzan Charm over something? and you wind up with a different deck... The Abzan version has more power and more options but this Golgari list is more consistent and less demanding on cards.

Sylvan LibraryThere are a lot of planeswalkers in this list despite the Rock archetype predating the card type quite significantly. Planeswalkers are perfect for the deck style, they offer a proactive tool that offers you a lot of utility, ongoing card advantage and some form of threat all the while not requiring you to extend into cards like Wrath of God because of your cheaper dorks. Liliana and Vraska are mostly for removal and disruption but are mild threats and need dealing with. Nissa has been amazing in cube, the untap of lands gives her a lot of utility, even in a deck with only six forests. It also transpires that it is very tough for any deck to beat a tide of colourless 4/4 trampling lands. Ugin looks very embarrassed about it all! Nissa is a potent threat that is your main win condition. Garruk is also made of win but he will also do a bit of removal and stabilizing for you if needs be. Seven is quite the jump given that you don't even really have any six drops but it is pretty worth it. You get a lot of impact with a Grave Titan and that would be fine but Apex is significantly more rounded.

Tasigur, the Golden FangHaving no tutor effects felt a bit dodgy but Sylvan Library is a more than happy replacement. You have enough shuffle and library manipulation to abuse it pretty hard. You have enough redundancy and robustness in your cards that you should be able to find what you need with Library instead of tutors. You also have a boat load of incidental lifegain which means against all but the most aggressive red decks you can afford to treat the Library like a Phyrexian Arena!

A final note on the lands, I have stopped including mana bases out of laziness but this one was a little more significant. The Misty Rainforest improves the manabase but more importantly works with the Library, Tasigur and Courser. It also offers another painless source of black with the Underground Sea which in turn makes for easier Tasigur activations. Seventeen is a lot of land for a deck with as much ramp as this as well as such a low curve. This was intentional, there are plenty of activations I want to be using, I have uses for spare lands as 4/4s or things to throw away to Liliana. I wanted a good pile of basic land as well so as to keep Tribe Elder good into the late game.

If you want to play magic this is the deck. Regardless of the sillyness your opponent is trying to pull this deck will interact with them and give you a good close game more often than any other archetype. It is slow to win and it is fair, but it is reliable and powerful and versatile. On the day this performed like a dream for me and was a delight to play and win with. So often in cube you rip your bomb Aetherling or Thundermaw to cheese a game or flop out an early bomb like Stoneforge/Batterskull or a True-Name Nemesis and just ride that to victory. This deck won't give you those somewhat hollow victories either. When you win you usually feel like you earned it excepting of course those floods and screws your opponent enjoys.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Sorry Dan H Tran

So apparently I deleted a comment on my MtG Origins Set Reveiw which I entirely didn't mean to and now I cannot get back. I not saying it is impossible to get back, just that I am suitably inept with computers to do so. The comment was to the effect of why do I not review cards like Wilt-Leaf Winnower at all, Nissa's Revelation only in a couple of lines yet waste loads of time talking about limp commons such as Topan Freeblade. This is a good question.

To get a good drafting cube you want a spread of casting costs across your cards that reflects the average mana curves of the commonly built good decks. This means that there should be far more one, two and three converted mana cost cards than any thing else. By the time you are getting to five six and seven there really are not that many slots for cards, even in a big cube. Mine is about 600 cards presently and there are about three six drops per colour. Power per mana goes up as you increase the CMC of a card however the bar for a cube viable card in terms of power per mana goes up far more steeply with increasing CMC. A fine two drop might make it, a fine seven drop won't, it has to be exceptional.

So lets talk about the two cards in question I under-reviewed. Firstly the Wilt-Leaf Winnower, a card that is clearly powerful. It will be a limited bomb and might well see a bunch of constructed play, if for nothing else because it is good against Rhino. For cube however I don't think it will get a look in. It is a five drop so as per my previous logic it needs to be very good but this is not the whole of the picture. Cards need to do things, you play them in one of several roles, threats, removal and so on. Winnower is a value removal spell as well as an OK threat. That is its role, you play it when you want all of those things condensed into one card. Commonly in grindy slow decks like the Rock. The problem this has is that it is worse than enough of the cards that fulfil the same role as it that there is no place for it in cube. Skin Render is cheaper and has no targetting restriction. Shriekmaw has far more flexible costings. The list goes on longer before I get to Winnower. I am being overly harsh to the card, it is much more playable than some of the things I take the time to review. It is just because the card offers nothing new and with not quite enough bang for a high CMC that I so readily disregard it.

Nissa's Revelation is incredibly powerful potentially but it is pretty much just a card advantage spell and a risky one at that. Scry five is a lot but you still need to be playing too many fatties for this to be reliable and worth the price. For that sort of mana and trouble you can just win the game. This might be the most powerful card draw thing in green but it is in the wrong place entirely. If you need card advantage use cheaper things that are not quite as pokey as this instead and save your top end slots for things like Craterhoof Behemoth. Although I don't think this is powerful enough you could argue otherwise and that is fine, the primary reason this doesn't get much cube consideration from me is simply because there is no sensible place for this card. Not because it has directly better comparable role fillers like Winnower (although again, I would argue that there are!) nor because it is not powerful enough.

So finally, why do I bother talking about really clearly awful or underpowered common cards. In the case of Topan Freeblade I fully accept I need to stop. It is automatic when I see a card that would have once been good enough to think about it in the context of cube. For other weak cards, if they are the cheapest or cleanest way to do a thing, or they offer reasonable redundancy to another useful thing then they usually get talked about. If you don't think about the weaker or less obvious cards then they are the most easily missed!

I hope than answered you question Dan H Tran and my apologise for deleting your comment.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Mtg Origins Preliminary Review

With the flipping planeswalker dorks taking so long to review I have broken the set review down into two parts, them and the rest, which is this. It started out poorly with weak versions of existing cards but steadily improved to be a very impressive set with loads of exciting, interesting and well designed cards. I look forward to playing with them all very much!

Rating Key

10 - Insane levels of good reserved for Time Walk and Sol Ring. I do not expect to ever give this rating to a new card.

9 - Things like Deathrite Shaman and Snapcaster Mage, the cards that are total staples in their colour(s) and are likely to be banned in other formats.

8 - Tier one archetypal bombs and high quality rounded cards. Bloodbraid Elf and Remand

7 - Good archetypal cards and high quality filler cards. Soldier of the Pantheon and Preordain

6 - Decent stand alone cards and the bar needed to hold an A cube slot.

5 - Good things that don't quite make it into the cube (B cube)

4 - Good things that don't really have a home despite offering decent power

3- narrow archetypal stuff that is of the right power level but not nearly often enough (C cube)

2- shouldn't see play but has unique aspects or an obvious home in a presently weak deck

1- unlikely to ever see play but has a glimmer of potential

0 - no place in any form of cube

Hixus, Prison Warden - 4

Sunblast Angel in a cheaper more interesting form. While situationally this has enough power to make it in the cube it is far too much of a fiddly card to be a cube mainstay. If the things he exiled stayed exiled then this would be a very different discussion, as is, I shall stick to cards that have a more consistently high base power level. Flashing five mana 4/4s are not the creatures you are looking for. Certainly playable but not up to required calibre of the present day.

Jhessian Thief - 5

We have seen Ophidian improve over the years. Prowess is a decent upgrade on Scroll Thief and is especially potent in the cube. My worry for this little dork is that it is only really good in a couple of very similar decks. Outside of those kinds of archetype Jhessian Thief is quite average. You want it to just fit in your deck and be good rather than tweaking your deck with a few more cheap instants so that it is good. I like this card and want it to be good but fully expect it to see too little play to merit a slot. When it is good however I suspect it will show up even the mighty Courser of Kruphix.

Enthralling Victor - 1

Somewhat narrow and somewhat midrange despite being a fine tempo card. The real problem for this is Zealous Conscripts, for one mana more you get so so much more, no type or power restriction on targets, haste and an extra toughness. There is not enough call for Conscripts to need cube redundancy and I cannot imagine a deck that wants that one mana off the card so much that they would chose this over it.

Avaricious Dragon - 5.5

Good card but overrated. This will make the cube but it won't see quite as much play as the hype suggests. A 4/4 flying dragon for 4 is good but in cube it isn't quite making the cut, it is filler. Thunderbreak Regent was that and a bit more yet was still too lacklustre to hold onto a cube slot for any time at all. As such we need the effect to be something we are getting a lot from to be including this beasty. Blood Scrivener is the effect most similar to this in the cube but not sufficiently to make useful comparisons. So how good is the dragons ability? How easy is it to optimize and therefore how many decks will want it? The ability is obviously very powerful, drawing a bonus card each turn is made of win. You need your dork to survive to get this but a 4/4 dragon is not an easy kill. The problem is that you have to discard your hand at the end of each turn. This means you want to be casting your dragon last so that you do not instantly dump a load of useful stuff in the bin. As such it is a very restrictive card to draw early as well as just to include in your list. Imagine having this and Fireblast still in your hand. You are faced with an awkward choice before you want to. Throw away two lands so as not to waste the Fireblast or keep the lands and lose the Fireblast. Both choices can lead to disaster. Even if you do smoothly curve out and finish with Avaricious Dragon turn four to six it will still be restrictive. Great you draw two instant burn spells you can cast, value! Sadly you needed one for their man land that is being a royal pain and have to use it on something else instead. He makes your stuff mostly sorcery speed, he prevents you from having hidden information from your opponent during their turn short of morph and hideaway... This is a lot of card and a lot of potential power but it has been made about as uncomfortable as possible with some very elegant and clever design. You cannot really abuse the discard to your favour short of Flamewake Phoenix. Discarding your whole hand makes it rather hard to take advantage of things in your graveyard. I see this card getting play only in aggressive red based decks with super low mana curves. It will be the kind of card you will play instead of other things rather than with them. Likely if you want to pack Avaricious you will be cutting as many four drops as you can as well as most if not all of your five plus drops. Things like Fireblast will be a bit of a no go as well. Good though this is, I think I would generally rather have a Fireblast and a Thundermaw in my deck than this thing. Powerful yes, but deceptively narrow.

Displacement Wave - 3

Part Distorting Wake part Devastation Tide. While this card is a bit clumsy it might have a place in this new age of tokens all over the place. Broadly I much prefer Devastation Tide to this card, even if you have no real way to go miracle on it. If you need to get that Wurmcoil out of play then five mana seems far more reasonable than eight. The problem with Devastation Tide is that spending all that mana and a card to wipe the board is all well and good but it doesn't deal with anything. If you are looking to wipe the board you are probably not having much there yourself and as such are not going to be able to apply enough pressure to take advantage of the tempo from your mass bounce. What Displacement Wave offers is some control over what you bounce thus allowing you to leave a favourable board for you. What it looks like I am saying is this is quite a good solution to white weenie or any token themed deck if you are a tempo blue mage, it is a bit of a Pernicious Deed. Sadly it is not much cop outside of that particular role and is too sorcery and expensive to see any mainstream cube use.

Mizzuim Meddler - 2

Cute and annoying but as a three drop 1/4 you are going to be hard pressed to justify having this in your cube deck, even your sideboard. Perhaps in an Aluren deck? Niche would be an understatement but still not a card that is unplayable in cube.

Ravaging Blaze - 1

Surprisingly close as it goes. This offers scaling removal to red decks that also progresses their main route to victory. This is to Fireball what Searing Blaze is to Lightning Bolt. Sadly, Bolt is nutty good while Fire Ball and company are all a bit too slow for cube. While it would be fantastic to be able to take out a Baneslayer Angel with one card, let alone getting five damage on the face as well I fear that getting to seven mana before said Baneslayer has ended the game will not be happening.

Elemental Bond - 3.5

There have been several cards with this effect although none that are this easy to cast or this easy to trigger. Wild Nacatl can trigger this, along with many two other two drops. It would not be at all hard to build a very potent deck where this had at least 15 triggers. It looks pretty tasty for Collected Company as well! Enchantments are pesky to kill and while this is a huge tempo setback it is a reliable ongoing source of card advantage. Not quite a Phyrexian Arena but not miles off either, and in green. I will certainly be trying this out in a few places. I don't think it will be a mainstay but it will certainly be a viable card.

Pia and Kiran Nalaar - 6

First Thundermaw and now this, it really looks like Siege-Gang Commander is being pushed out of the cube. Basically, unless you have a decent number of good goblin synergies, ie a goblin deck I am not sure you would ever play Siege-Gang over this in cube. A mana less for a guy less is a pretty fair deal all round, it is still much the same sort of thing but it comes down sooner and thus can do more. This is doubly good when compared to the Gang as they both have activated abilities with a mana cost so not only are you having it in play sooner, you are able to shoot stuff sooner also. A pair of 1/1 fliers is massive and will do considerably more work than a pair of 1/1s or even three 1/1s. They block more, get in more damage and are more trouble for planeswalkers. Both the flying tokens and the lower cost more than make up for the extra mana on the sacrifice ability. You are able to sacrifice any artifact with it as well which gives loads of utility and synergy, much more than than the ability to sac a mere goblin. This is a very rounded card, it gives great board presence that is hard to entirely remove. It gives some presence in the sky, it has some removal and reach built in and has potential cool interactions with other cube cards coming through the roof. Decent value, great utility and high annoyance factor. Fairly midrange but none the less a staple cube card I expect.

Kothophed, Soul Hoarder - 0

I like the card but it is too expensive for something that isn't necessarily doing loads for you. A 6/6 flier for six is OK but not playable comparatively and so you need to milk the draw. That is hard to do on the turn you make it and not even certain should you untap with it. There is even the possibility you can't now cast things like Infest because they will kill you in some way. Cool, but not for cube.

Relic Seeker - 5.5

A fair Stoneforge Mystic. Although this card is decent it is far from broken and like Stoneforge it is rather narrow. What it does have on Stoneforge is that it is pretty playable filler in any old aggressive creature deck when you get no equipment. A 1W 2/2 that becomes a 3/3 upon connection is perfectly acceptable filler. Much better than to not have enough threats or a dodgy curve. You don't want to play it without the equipment but the fact that you can is a big help to a fair and narrow card. Yes, Topan Freeblade is directly better than this when you have no equipment, but that is a good as the Topan is ever getting. When you do have equipment the Relic Seeker probably earns itself a cube slot. It has cool potential, people might not know if you have equipment and it will act as a bit of a lure for removal and blocks until they find out you don't. You may even have a use for it as a one off shuffle effect!?

Send to Sleep - 8

Anyone who played in Mirrodin and presumably the first Modern Masters will know the brutal power of Blinding Beam. The card is a little pricey and narrow for the cube but is a total beating in limited. It is one of the few non-threat, non-removal cards, non-card advantage cards that have ever been good in limited. Send to Sleep is most of what Blinding Beam was but it is half the price. Half the price suddenly makes this look like a bit of a monster for even cube usage. Presently I peg this as one of the standout cards in the set, certainly better that the likes of Avaricious Dragon. This card will be very playable and in both aggro and control decks. Two things tapped down for two turns is a huge tempo swing. Although you are not going to be tying up your opponent's mana with this as you would with bounce effects you are delaying more stuff and for a potentially longer time than would be achieved with bounce. Spell mastery will not be hard to achieve for when you want to be using this kind of effect. At only two mana and instant as well it is the kind of hidden resource that can absolutely ruin someone. They think they are winning the race, they are not scared of your Cryptic Command as you don't have enough up and then you hit them with this and they are so far from winning the race. This will be seen cast at the end of your opponent's turn, in response to declaration to attack and in your own pre-combat main phase all to great effect. It will make your planeswalkers safer, it will make theirs easier to kill. It will make you happier to play more late game cards yet it will also make you happier playing less finishers (broadly speaking that will be in control and aggro decks respectively but you get the point). This card has a lot of effect on the board, the game and this effect continues to resonate for longer than your typical spell. It costs very little mana given how much it can alter the balance of what is going on. Assume you are triggering the spell mastery, the worst this card is ever really going to be is locking down a pair of two power dorks that are freely hitting you. Sure, you are a card down but you saved 8 life and give yourself the chance to get back into a game you are clearly in some trouble. Often it will win a game like the old Fireblast and then it has all the strong uses between winning the game and preventing 8 damage. Very unassuming but equally deadly. It might look situational, but in reality it just isn't and seems well worth the loss of card advantage, something blue can easily recover. It will allow you to outplay people and might not seem exciting but then many of the best cards aren't. They just do a simple thing for an efficient cost. Remand often feels like you cast a Time Walk on someone, Send to Sleep will feel like that more often.

Languish- 3

Better than Mutilate I would say on average but not doing what you need a Wrath to do some of the time. Too many serious threat evade this and for a 4 mana sorcery that isn't enough. Mutilate may be worse on average but at least it has a higher top end potential and as such is still going to see much more cube play than this. It has some reasonable synergy with having your own 5 toughness guys but still, likely not enough.

Blessed Spirits - 2

Another enchantress aggro card, the number of options for for such a deck are pretty extreme now and it is one of the narrowest, least done and least included archetypes going. Nice and different, very fun but still, a lot of work in so many different ways. This is mildly interesting because it is evasive which not so many of the things like this are.

Nissa's Pilgrimage - 3

Potentially very potent, a three for one and a ramp for three mana is pretty saucy. Sadly there will not be that much occasion in cube to really milk this card. It only finds basic forests which means no fixing but more importantly it means having at least 7 forests in your deck in the first place. This leaves it pretty exclusively as a heavy green ramp card which is likely too narrow to earn a cube slot.

Dark Petition - 2

Certainly better than Diabolic Tutor but still a far cry from Demonic Tutor. You need five mana upfront and you then need to be able to usefully use the three you get back from it. This is a fairly acceptable second Necropotence but beyond that it is not going to be doing what is needed often enough. Comparably narrow to Nissa's Pilgrimage but not as powerful or playable.

Bounding Krasis - 5

This card is irritatingly good. It is dull and gold and not even in a very good colour pairing for what it is. That all said this is an incredibly obnoxious tempo card. A 3/3 with flash is surprisingly good on its own, good against counter magic, great as a unexpected blocker and so forth. A free twiddle on a dork in addition to the reasonable package and you can get a lot done. Pseudo-vigilance on a guy, a second surprise blocker, a mana back should you have a mana dork, deny an attack and so on. Many good and common uses that allow you to get tempo and value from the Krasis. Not sure what decks play this, Temur Zoo perhaps? That is the issue for this card. Definitely good enough, a bit middle of the road and without a home though.

Honoured Hierarch - 6

Another commendably designed card. Initially I dismissed this as being a rubbish 1/1 for one with an overly situational upside. Then I started placing it in scenarios, various draws and so forth and found that actually it was performing acceptably. I don't think this card is great but there are places in the cube this does have a home, more so than many of the more obvious or powerful cards in this set. Basically, if you make this on turn one on the play you have pretty good odds on making it renown. Yes, you might draw out a Swords to Plowshares, Lightning Bolt and if so you are not too put out. Annoying but certainly could have been worse. Much much better than doing nothing and them still having said card. Perhaps they make an aggressive dork, perhaps it is a Goblin Guide, if they sit back you are laughing, if they attack you are laughing. All the outcomes are good. On the draw the card is significantly worse which is what will kill its cube chances if it doesn't make the cut. I am pretty hopeful for this card, yes it is miles worse than Noble Hierarch but that isn't really what this card is. I see myself playing this in Zoo more like a Lotus Cobra mixed with an Experiment One. Fixing is nice, ramp is useful but only to a point, too much can be painful on your late game. The new Hierarch once renown can attack and offer mana simultaneously and does both significantly above the curve for a one mana dork. So early it is good, it is forcing annoying plays for your opponent because of the potential value it can offer. Supplemented with any of your own removal it is even better when made early. It will punish slow decks and temper quick ones and all for fairly little investment. Because it can become a 2/2 vigilance come Birds of Paradise it also has far more late game value than something like a Llanowar Elf. It is still a weak draw off the top but you are playing it primarily because it is a cheap card that you can get the ball rolling with early. The fact that it is better than other such early cards late is a decent perk. If you want a ramp card certainly don't play this or consider it as such a card, if you want aggressive cheap dorks there are better ones on offer than this. If however you want to maximize the value on your cards and like ramp but really need to be focusing on pressure then this is pretty decent.

Tainted Remedy - 2

Cheap and to the point for such a thing. Either a hoser or a combo card. The former is lame and not a good cube thing, the latter is a little more interesting but likely not a thing.

Flameshadow Conjuring - 1

Not a threat itself, expensive and needs feeding so to speak. Some abuses but not ones worth it thanks.

Starfield of Nyx - 5

Replenish meets Opalessence! Ovviously this is a much slower card than either of the others but the fact that you can just flop it down without setting it up so much with the fact that it does the role of both makes this a very interesting card indeed. Especially off the back of having lots of gods and enchantment creatures to recur as well! This certainly has a place as a build around me card in cube, it might even be enough to make it as a stand alone card. The more enchantments in the cube that you have the more playable this becomes. Slow but powerful and dangerous in a deck with enough useful enchantments.

Day's Undoing - 2

Not really any use in cube with better more powerful spells on offer and not seeing that much play. In modern however this looks pretty naughty, there are many ways to make it instant at which point it is a very dangerous card indeed. Get your blue Leylines in now!

Managorger Hydra - 3

A lot of mana for a 1/1 but it gets out of hand really quickly. Decent decks have performed well in the past that used far limper monsters with more conditional grow effects both in cube and constructed. I don't see this being a card played often at all in cube and think it is likely a bit slow and vulnerable in decks not built to abuse it in some way.

Kytheon's Irregulars - 5

I am very drawn to the tap ability and think it is very potent tool to have on a reasonable threat. It is a little mana and colour intense but as a finisher in white weenie that is not much of an issue. This and access to four or more white mana will be very tough to beat short of removal. You will be able to lock down dangerous threats and force through damage. Compared to cheaper tappers like Gideon's Lawkeeper this ties up more of your mana but does the work of about three cards being able to tap multiple things and still be involved in combat. The renown is minor but easy enough to trigger and certainly not a bad thing to have. Sadly I think this card is too boarderline and narrow. Good in white weenie but average most other places and not better than the presently used things in the four slot for white weenie.

Jace's Sanctum - 2

Powerful and abusable effect but on a four mana enchantment this has no home. It is too expensive for a combo deck to cast and has little synergy should you Replenish it. Control decks need  sorcery cards of this cost to do something significant right there and then. This is the opposite of that.

Topan Freeblade - 0

Above the curve for a 1W dork but not powerful enough at the top end and doing nothing specific beyond being reasonable value. The cube is too good for cards like this to get a look in these days. I am still somewhat adjusting to that change despite it having been the case for so long. I just still remember a time where this card would have been straight in and so it still catches my attention.

Shaman of the Pack - 5

This is a dangerous finisher not unlike Grey Merchant of Asphodel. It is narrower and less impact than a Grey Merchant but it is cheap and a much better body for the cost as well. On top of this elves are a potent force in cube and this is a very interesting addition to their arsenal. It has disgusting synergy with Wirewood Symbiote and allows you to win games without a need to attack, a surprisingly good thing for a green mage. This card is OK in a non-elf deck assuming you still have a few other elves, which you likely will being a green mage. This makes it viable for cube, likely competing with Dreg Mangler, a much better card on average but with a lower top end potential. There are a lot of ways to build a tribal elf deck, this will work wonders for some, be fine in others and likely allow for some entirely new variations as well. It is narrow but less so than a lot of cards that go in powerful archetypes like white weenie, zoo, or red deck wins. When an archetype is so good that it is tier one in cube I am more open to including cards that really only shine in them.

Valeron Wardens - 4

Another card that seems like lots of value but probably isn't doing enough often enough and even when it does it is not the most needed of things. This kind of card is filler, you play it when you want bodies. It is not a brutal tempo threat nor hard to kill nor continually yielding value nor removing obstacles. It is just a body that can get you some card advantage. It is worse than a Sea Gate Oracle initially and has the potential to be a fair chunk better. There is not a shortage of good bodies in the cube, neither is there a shortage of three drops. This kind of filler is unlikely to be ever called upon. Valeron Wardens does scale very well with lots of things, obviously more renown dorks, removal, things that provide evasion. Enough of these things and you likely have a good card but I think the average performance of the Wardens will be too low to have a slot. You want your filler cards to be reliable and that is the one thing this isn't, it is either awful or really above the curve.

Archangel of Tithes - 5

Another very well placed and designed card. It looks like a lot of stuffs for the manas and it is but it is all balanced and given in such a way to remain a very borderline cube card. A 3/5 flier for 4 isn't at all a bad start. It also makes any sort of combat uncomfortable for your opponent, in control you cannot get so easily swarmed nor applied as much overall pressure to. Similarly in aggro it allows you to apply that bit more pressure and wear opponents down. It is quite a playable card from the aggro, through the midrange all the way up to control. Problem is that it isn't ever great in any of them. If you could attack with it and still receive the defensive bonus it would be a lot more exciting but as it is it is either a limp threat or an expensive wall. Yes, it does both and this is again good, it is a very rounded card but it doesn't quite feel like it is ever enough to merit it. Triple white in the cost is also uncomfortable on such a middling card. You look at your Cryptic Command and think, I don't want to compromise casting this to make room for that! Likewise for aggro, it is a fine card but you would rather Kytheon's Irregulars in your four slot to close out a game than it, let alone something actually good like Elspeth...

Woodland Bellower - 5.5

Somewhere between Craw Wurm and a Primeval Titan, which I realise leaves an awfully large window of possiblity! You get a fat dork that is below average for the cost by any standards these days, not just the cube. It has no useful abilities and that is what makes the card a closer call for a cube slot. Green does not have that many really top rate cards in the six slot. After the Titan the next best is likely Rampaging Baloths but that is preferably a seven drop so as to ensure value. The Baloths are a lot more powerful than Bellower but it is a little more fiddly and is just a fatty threat. Bellower offers utility and some very good utility at that. A non-legendary green creature that costs three or less is not as restrictive as the text sounds and can get you something that does most things. It is usually more powerful than finding two lands to put into play. Sadly you only get to do it once otherwise this would be an easy review! Overall with this you get a tutor effect for a dork, a three or just less than mana saving off said dork and a generic 6/5 thrown in the mix. A tutor, a two for one at least and some mana saved starts to sounds really good. As such it is certainly a lot closer to Thragtusk or Primeval Titan than the lowly Craw Wurm. Not just utility but a good old chunk of value as well. None of what you get is a game ending threat but it should be a huge help in taking the game. Play this card like Thragtusk and not like Rampaging Baloths. It is good but it is not nuts, six mana is a lot for a value/utility card and as such it is quite narrow. It is a lot of value and utility but at the stage when you should be thinking about winning the game not just getting more ahead.

Exquisite Firecraft - 5.5

Oh to be an instant! Simple changes that would make the choices and callings on cards that much easier. Four damage to any target is worth about three mana. Flame Javelin, Brimstone Volley and Char are all borderline cube cards with their minor irritations preventing them becoming mainstays. Exquisite Firecraft sits neatly with those other three cards in power level wishing it were instant so as to rise above them. Each of the other options is far better than Firecraft in the optimal deck however each of them is pretty awful in several applications. Exquisite Firecraft is never afwful, any deck wanting burn can play it and have it be fine but likewise it is usually going to be the second or third best hefty burn spell for the situation. This is unusual for modern card design, for a card to be more average across the board and less polarised. In a format like cube where playability counts for a lot I think this card will make the cut. When you want a 4 point burn spell this will do the job. Uncounterable will be a pleasant luxury every now and again but will typically just make your life easier than actually making the card perform better. I would trade it for instant speed in a heartbeat. It will be a low end cube card but with things like Courser of Kruphix kicking about red needs more playable four point burn spells and this seems like the best to include from the options for drafting reasons.

Alhammarret's Archive - 4

Well this is all sorts of fun! Not really the kind of thing you can throw into a normal deck, it is way too expensive for a do nothing on its own card. Card draw and lifegain are good but it is rare to have so much that this would be a good tool, it is so powerful a lot of the time it would be overkill. Sphinx's Revelation with this out is going to be a concern for milling yourself! The one place I can see this getting a look in is in some Tinker / Welder style artifact deck where turning your Chromatic Star card into double draw spells would be rather useful. Replacing the Extreme and hard to use Memory Jar with a more convenient ongoing effect like this might be the right call in some decks. Narrow and a bit win more but obscenely powerful and with some good applications. Because of how my cube is presently built and setup to avoid the narrower archetypes this will have to be a B cube card for now but there are definitely cubes out there which this goes straight into.

Demonic Pact - 4.5

Another winning card design that I am greatly impressed with. It adds a new dimension to the game and has two obvious applications. One, you play ways to kill it and use it to gain huge value over a few turns. Two, you play an aggressive deck and aim to win the game in two or three turns from casting it. The first application is narrow but very powerful, the second is risky and a little situational. Between the two the card is another pretty borderline cube card. Because it is so cool and unique I will certainly be trying it out in as many concoctions as possible but I am fearful it will eventually be cut. Best case scenario with the card is that you pay four mana and still nothing happens until your next turn and there are some significantly worse scenarios on offer! Power at a price is something black is used to, an abundance of options less so and is a big part of what appeals about this card. Slow sorcery speed cards that don't affect the board need to really get it done so despite the power, as said, probably a no go, but also great. Want to see more!

Vryn Wingmare - 4

Glowrider grew wings and became semi playable again in the form of this Wingmare. A 2/1 for 3 is pretty dismal. The effect is great but on a three drop loses a lot of the punch that Thalia can offer, especially on the draw. Redundancy in this kind of effect is extra powerful however and so with this kind of disruption totally being a viable thing in cube and there being decent support for it I can see this getting some play. Flying is a useful perk and will give you some reasonable pressure / control while you slow down the game. A weak card but one that does a powerful and desirable thing for cube.

Soulblade Djinn - 3

Super prowess! This is a reasonable threat and very potent in a token style deck. It is also a five mana card that doesn't usually do much when it comes into play that is fairly easy to kill. It is awful when you lack the support cards to go with it and simply doesn't measure up well to the kinds of things you can do with five mana. Playable but not that powerful or readily useful.

Dwynen's Elite - 3.5

Grizly Bear with bonus elf if you have another elf. Too situational and low power to be a maincube card but very potent indeed in the right kind of tribal deck. Any wishing to mass up for an Overrun effect or to abuse Shaman of the Pack. Great with things that pump elves too! All in all this is a card that you can get a lot from in the right place but that is only ever really filler. Good, but narrow filler.

Gnarlroot Trapper - 3

I almost ruptured something when I first saw this. I thought they had gone and done another Deathrite Shaman only this time allowed it to unconditionally tap for mana. Sadly the unconditionally gained mana must be spent... conditionally. In a black green elf deck this is likely better than Boreal Druid or Arbour Elf, Perhaps even Elves of Deepshadow. You want a lot of one drop mana elves and so despite there being a good five or so better than this there is still a chance you play it in the odd cube deck. The deathtouch utility is cheeky too and will be a nice late game perk, all be it a minor one.

Harbinger of Tides - 7

This rather makes up for the four mana common Man-O-War in this set. This is about the best two drop tempo dork blue has ever had. Obviously it is well designed, as with a lot of the good blue cheaper cards, the best time to be using them is not the earliest you can make them. Odds on if you make this one turn two you are not bouncing anything, and if you are it is something small and poxy like a Goblin Guide. Wasting a mana that early is not to be sniffed at but this is best case remember, mostly we are missing turn two. A 2/2 for two is often better than not playing something and so the fact that you can save this for lots of potential value or just drop it down and stay in the game mean it is excellent. Later on this card starts to shine, you can fairly easily bounce things on the cheap while progressing your board and even have mana up to represent counters as well or you can use it as a Venser, Shaper Savant and wreak havoc with combat. Not quite so good on the pure offensive as not so much will be tapped however blue is rarely able to get on the pure offensive and this is exactly the sort of racing card it needs. Overall this is a lot better than Man-O-War and pretty comparable to Venser. Harbinger of Tides is less potent than the legend but a lot more flexible on the mana and useful early or in tight spots. Harbinger is a lot better than Riftwing Cloudskate and fills the most similar sort of role in a deck.

Graveblade Marauder - 3

A bit meh bit a 1/4 deathtouch for 3 is a pain to block or attack into. In addition to this there is the hope that he scales well into the late game as an offensive tool. In a lot of ways I am reminded of the mighty Tarmogoyf, one that is better at the low end but worse as they scale up. Sadly Marauder costs three not two and so just being fat and good in combat isn't really cutting it. There are some decks where this will more reliably offer pretty serious damage output, potentially a three turn clock but it still isn't a very exciting card and doesn't do that much for you. I am not sold for cube, it is a little situational, a little narrow to maximise and far too linear of a card. For something like standard this could be pretty good.

Infinite Obliteration - 0

If you are just really that fed up with Aetherling or I guess something like a True-Name. Really, this has no place in singleton.

Hallowed Moonlight - 5

Another somewhat hose card but one that is fine to maindeck because it has pretty wide application and cycles anyway. This is basically just a one shot Containment Priest that is a card instead of a 2/2, pretty reasonable. Better for control certainly and nice to have the option. Likely played in a similar slot to Abeyance. Perhaps a little bit situational to be worth it but certainly worth a trial.

The Great Aurora - 5

This is pretty much a green Upheaval in the right deck. Nine is a lot but you don't need any extra as you do with Upheaval and in green it is certainly reachable. To my mind it is in the category of Craterhoof Behemoth - a green finisher. It is one more mana but deals with basically everything and isn't so reliant on being able to attack and having dorks. A green mage should be up on things in play on the whole and should also benefit most from the returning of land to play. All the green ramp effects are putting things into play. Green also finds it easy to fill up on cards provided they are lands. This however is fine, you simply want to draw as many more cards than your opponent as possible with the Great Aurora. To really abuse Upheaval you need artifact mana that you can re-lay after casting so that you have a huge advantage over your opponent. This is not the case with the Great Aurora because it puts all the land back in to play. You can build to it somewhat with cards that give card advantage and minimising cards that don't trigger a draw for the Aurora. Thing is, that isn't hard in green, certainly not ramp green. You are naturally doing things that work towards this finisher. It isn't quite the game ender that Upheaval is, it gives your opponent a chance to stay in the game but it should always be putting you in a good position relative to where you were. Thing is, for nine mana you do want the game over, not in a position where you are ahead or rely on getting some luck. As such this is a little liek the Woodland Bellower. More useful and powerful but so expensive it is awkward to get off even in the best of ramp decks. I like it but I am not hopeful for its future.

Embermaw Hellion -3

Pretty wishful and midrange but I do still kind of like it. It isn't the worst body for the mana and turns a number of things into monsters. Goblin Sharpshooter, Gelectrode, Arc Trail, Inferno Titan etc. Certainly a more playable card than Furnace of Rath.

Goblin Glory Chaser - 4

Fine in a red weenie deck but not enough to make it as a red deck wins threat. Being a goblin is nice, it adds a lot of potential tribal synergies to the card and might see it get some play in those roles. This is filler aggressive one drop that you play because you have things like Goblin Bushwhacker improving their value. Better than a Reckless Waif but not better than a Stromkirk Noble, a card that has not seen play since Khans block release.

Thopter Spy Network - 1

Cool but slow and expensive with a capped draw of one card per turn. This is both on the narrow side and underpar power wise for cube consideration.

Molten Vortex - 6.5

One of the most interesting cards in the set. I expect this to do well in cube as well as other formats. I cannot really see this as a one off as bad in any sort of burny red deck and some may even want to rely on getting it more. Essentially it is Seismic Assault with RR lopped off the casting cost and replaced with a R on the activation. What this does is reduce the combo potential but greatly increase the overall playability of the card. Now, any deck expecting to have surplus lands at some stage or a way to get a whole load, and of course reasonable access to red mana will likely play this. Red deck wins loves it, not only does it give you a lot of legs in a flood but it lets you build your deck differently should you want/need. Especially with Faithless Looting and some other cards in this set you can afford to stretch and warp your curve and mana ratios to suit what other things you want going on. Life from the Loam and green rampy decks will likely approve of this card. Even the odd control deck might go for it. Not nutty but very cheap, convenient and always of some use. It is in some ways an inverse Zuran Orb - some games it will do nothing, others it will win. In a flood it is a lot more use early than Seismic Assault which again, is a massive thing in its favour.

Pyromancer's Goggles - 3

A fun card that could well be pretty saucy in the right place but is generally far too narrow for cube play. The kinds of decks that can cast five mana artifacts don't have that many spells that they then wish to Fork.

Gideon's Phalanx - 5.5

I don't want this to be good but it kind of seems like it is. At seven mana you expect spell mastery to trigger when casting it so you can also reasonably expect to blow almost any ground based attack out of the water and start you next turn with a pretty decent board position from nothing. This is much worse than Entreat the Angels as a finisher but much better defensively, not to mention much more convenient to play with. Instant speed on your bigger spells is huge for control decks as it lets you cast them that much more safely. This is not too far off a wrath, it is also eight of both power and toughness for seven mana. It will kill planewalkers with ease, keep yours alive, and just attack for the win. The latter is all the more likely if you blow them out with obscene indestructible blocks. There is not much room for seven drops in the cube so this will still have to perform very well to hold its slot but it is spot on in so many ways. Great when behind but also a proactive threat if needed. Great convenience on casting especially given how much impact it has on the board. A bit dull but none the less, seemingly very effective.

Scab-Clan Beserker - 4.5

Top end performance this is nutty good, bottom end is is deeply unsatisfying. It is not even likely to be a bad Chandra's/Flamewake Phoenix when it is bad, odds on it is literally a Grey Ogre. Not having played with renown at all I am simply going to have to play with them, my gut says that it is a weak mechaninc bad but I do still like a lot of the renown cards, including this one. Haste goes a long way to making this easier to trigger but I fear that it is being a three drop that will edge this out of contention. Presently the kind of decks that want this kind of card are trying to end their curve on three. The only three drops that should be cutting it are those that are nutty good or doing exactly what you want. Those that can misfire and that are speculative seem like what you play when your draft has gone wrong and you are desperate for playables. As a 1/1 two drop or some other form of scaling back the power so as to make it a two drop this would be worth throwing in as a hopeful card. Things need to slow down in cube so that average CMCs of deck increase further before this is that good I think.

Abbot of Keral Keep -  7

One of the better non-planeswalker cards in the set, easily top three as it stands. It is mostly an improved Ire Shaman although it has some comparisons to Snapcaster Mage and Knight of the White Orchid too. Those primarily being that you don't really want to make this on turn two. Although half the cost of the Ire Shaman it is twice the cost (when it matters) on the exile ability. This means you will have one less mana to play your exiled card and thus have to be that more careful about when you play your Abbot. Scry and other library manipulation will make this a lot better but still not a turn two play as a value card. Typically you won't have much manipulation and so this will be a 4 or 5 drop in a deck with a curve ending near 3. A 2/1 prowess for two is a thing at least and gives you those all important options, you can just flop it out and apply some pressure with it or hold off a pesky attacker. It is all too easy with the power of things in cube to forget how powerless you are when unable to play anything. Awful cards like Grey Ogres still do a lot of work in the cube when forced that way. Ideally you don't want to just make it as 2/1 and as such that will only happen a small % of the time however, assuming you play sensibly those times you do play it as a 2/1 on turn two you will be greatly increasing your odds of winning that game. Red needed more card advantage and this is a very well designed and well flavoured way of helping it out. It will help red midrange to be a potential thing, be viable in control and be likely an auto include in aggro.

Disciple of the Ring - 4

After much thought I don't think this has a place in cube. Certainly it would not look out of place in the company of powerful cube cards but it seems like it isn't doing what you need it to. A five mana 3/4 is not a great start, it is vulnerable and not that great of a defensive body. Ideally you want mana up, quite a chunk of it when you make this so as to ensure some safety and value. This makes it more like an Aetherling yet it doesn't win the game it just fartarses around annoying everyone. The real problem with this card however is that in cube you really are not that into eating up all your graveyard for several reasons. Snapcaster and delve cards both want those things still in the graveyard. Often the slower decks relying on having answers need reshuffle effects like Elixir of Immortality so as to be able to repeatedly use specific cards, if you eat them all with Disciple of the Ring then you can't. Finally, you only have 40 cards in a deck which means you have nominally less stuff that you will ultimately be able to remove and you cannot afford to be so blasé about self mill and things because you can easily kill yourself! I cannot imagine you getting enough triggers, or at least ones you are happy about what you exile, for this to be worth it on top of being mana intense and fiddly. Either I want Aetherling or I want Glen Elandra Archamge, I don't ever want this. 

Priest of the Blood Rite - 2.5

Cool design with some good synergies but sadly just a value dork and for five mana, not enough for the cube. Seven power and toughness at five mana, mostly flying and synergy with flicker effects and Reccurring Nightmare. All quite good but both linear and narrow to maximise. Loss of life in upkeep is pretty minor but certainly annoying. Most of the investment being in a vulnerable token form is also a little distressing. 

Animist's Awakening - 1

Potentially immense power but scaling in all the wrong directions for it to be a good cube card. You want to fire this off with a huge X late in the game so you get a good influx of card advantage but this is when you least need more mana. No thanks.

Talent of the Telepath - 3

A very naughty card indeed but far too dependant on what your opponent is up to to be viable in anything but a mill deck where the dual functionality of the card plus its potential sick power are enough. Hit a deck playing Time Walk effects and big card draw you are laughing, hit some burn spells you are not unhappy. Hit a bunch of countermagic or useless removal, or more likely still just lands, creatures, and planeswalkers then you have mostly just cast time walk for your opponent. Narrow, random to say the least but quite fun and potentially stupid. I won't play this but I am sure there are those out there that really want to.

Despoiler of Souls - 4

A bad Bloodghast is what we have here. An extra power is nice but does not come close to compensating for the mana cost on recursion or the weak mechanism for recursion compared to the Bloodghast. Regardless of it it cost you a card or not, you are not often that up for spending two mana on a 3/1 that can't block. As with Disciple of the Ring, things in your yard are a valuable asset most of the time, eating two of them to get back this is not going to be something you can do that many times in a game nor something you really want to do at all in a lot of decks, for example, the kind of deck you would want Bloodghast in.... None the less, I can see this getting a little bit of play, perhaps as much Nyx Weaver gets. Being able to bring it back at end of your opponents turn is certainly a nice perk.

Evolutionary Leap - 6

One of the most interesting cards in the set and one I have not yet fully worked out. The thesaurus unsurprisingly comes up with Survival of the Fittest as a comparison for this card. They may have many similarities but their role and function is very different. One is a discard outlet, one is a sacrifice outlet for a start which means they support different synergies. The card or role that Evolutionary Leap seems most comparable to is Skullclamp. Both are cards that turn creature resources in play into fresh resources in hand or offer some insurance to your creatures against removal. Leap is much worse than Skullclamp for combat because you don't get to do the damage and sac it for a replacement, you only get to do one while Clamp does both and adds a damage. Leap however also has some perks over Clamp, those being that it can be used on any or all of your monsters. This means that you are better off, assuming you have sufficient mana in play, should you be hit by a Wrath having three plus dorks in play with the Leap than you are with the Clamp. You are also better off against spot removal, there is no window when you re-equip and they can't ever just aim the removal at the things without the Clamp. You can sacrifice any sized dork to the Leap, not that you want to be throwing many 2+ toughness guys in the bin but still, it adds options and utility to an already good card. The final perk of Leap over Clamp and in general is the information it affords you. Every activation has a chance to put a bunch of lands and non-creature cards to the bottom of your library. Assuming you know your deck and remember what is on the bottom you start to gain some significant insight on fairly heavily changed odds on your draws. So, is this good enough? Where would you play it? It is not as brutal as Clamp, it costs one more, is more colour intense and only draws one card per dead dork. Yes, the cards are always creatures which is usually better than a random draw but certainly not always a definitely not better than two random draws. I see this having a potential home in decks with high creature counts, those that are more midrange but mostly those with any sort of synergy with sacrifice outlets. I am sure I will get my silly hat on and dust off my Veteran Explorer! A good tool against control but a card that hits your own tempo. A good excuse to play loads of mana elves to offset any tempo losses at least! This may be a little bit of a luxury card or it might be a little too niche in where it is at its best but I do really want this to be good enough. Card quality and psuedo-advantage is something I am in great favour of, especially when seen outside of blue.

Hangarback Walker - 5

So really only one archetype has much interesting in this card for the cube but it is one of the more powerful ones. If you support affinity this is one of the best two drops going, I significantly prefer it to Steel Overseer. I don't presently have affinity supported in my main cube for drafting but it is all ready to go for other formats and is still played a decent amount. This card scales well with your mana, very well with your modular and other counter giving effects, great in a standoff and even better once it has been killed! Evasion and lots of cheap artifacts to sac and pump other things are what you want for affinity and this does all of those things. 

Outland Colossus - 0

Poo. No trample or anything. Wolfir Silverheart this is entirely not. 

Bonded Construct - 4

Another potential affinity card. Cheap and reasonable power, not replacing Signal Pest, Vault Skirge or Arcbound Worker but it might still get a look in. Man lands an the 0 cost artifact dorks make attacking with this on turn two not that unlikely and Springleaf Drum and things make it that much less of a pain when it can't attack. It is easy to cast, an artifact and a threat so has all the main ingredients of an affinity/robots card. 

Herald of the Pantheon - 4.5

Narrow but very powerful. An acceptable body, an abusable mana saving mechanic and a bit of life to sweeten the deal. Only good if you have enchantments but more and more playable ones are arriving to the point that this might even be viable outside Enchantress decks!

Nissa's Revelation - 1

Far too sorcery speed to be any sort of comparison to Sphinx's Revelation. There are better ways to get card advantage in green, ways that won't sit in your hand dead for much of the game. Nice for EDH, too much for cube.

Erebos' Titan - 5.5

Quite the upgrade on Juzzam Djinn but that classic fatty hasn't been in the cube for nearing a decade now. This is a fine card not a good one, it is powerful midrange filler but it isn't doing anything specific for you nor has that much in the way of synergies and so many well fade off into obscurity. No flying, trample or lifelink make the body pretty dull, just quite robust and meaty. It is like a roadblock that doubles up as an OK threat. The cost of 1BBB is reasonable, unlike the much better Phyrexian Obliterator this can be played outside of mono black decks but it also contributes well to devotion which adds to the roundedness and playability of the card. When playing this you should be doing so because you want a fat 4 drop, not because you think you are getting much value from the abilities. Certainly both of them will be relevant occasionally but they will be very hard to rely on for much. Mostly the indestructible will not be active, it never will be for combat, nor will it be much use through your own mass removal. Every now and again they will have to try and kill it with spot removal and you will have the right instant removal in hand to clear their board in response. Mostly people will play around this although Sickening Shoal, Contagion and the like will make this harder and when you get it off you will be pretty far ahead. It will be at its best against control decks where it will find itself indestructible most often. The other ability is even weirder! It never gets card advantage for you but does afford you card quality, a discard outlet and a recursive threat. Unfortunately it is weirdly hard to trigger, they have to have a dork in the bin and it then has to leave the bin. You can force this with Exhume or Deathrite Shaman or it can be the result of them delving or using Elixir of Immortality or just using a card like Vengevine. There are lots of ways it can trigger but it harder to have it on tap so to speak. Certainly not a bad card, powerful but aimless.

Whirler Rogue - 5.5

Blue gets it's own Pia and Kiran Nalaar! The activated abilities on the blue version is weaker but can be used more often and without mana investment. This is far from powerful in cube terms but it is offering something blue has limited access too. Both decent stats for mana on dorks and a significant presence in one card. Master of the Waves has the potential to be much more powerful than this but it requires some setting up and can be dealt with using a single spot removal spell. This is a nice rounded array of bodies that gives blue some extra construction options and directions. Flicker and mass pump effects scale well with card as do any that benefit from being unblockable. Swords of This and That, Jhessian Sage, renown etc. I stress again, this is not a powerful card, not weak either, just earning its slot by having no real competition rather than on raw merit alone. 

Artificer's Epiphany - 2

A weaker Thirst for Knowledge with far less choices, digging power or utility. A fine enough card but too narrow and outclassed to be seeing much if any cube play. 

Chief of the Foundry - 4

A 3 mana lord is about the going rate, this is a 2/3 and all colourless to play but offers nothign beyond the +1/+1. Master of Etherium is a lot more powerful but this is a lot easier to cast in the kinds of decks it will be good. It is not either or with lords and so I can fully see a token and creature heavy affinity build using both of these. Although Chief of the Foundry looks like he offers nothing beyond the +1/+1 to all your things the fact that he is also an artifact greatly helps you general synergies. Casting difficulties aside I prefer this to Tempered Steel, it does more on its own and is far more consistent within the deck.

Tragic Arrogance - 3

An inverse (and bad) Cataclysm. The two best things about Cataclysm are that it wipes out most of the lands and all the planeswalkers and this does neither of those things. Cataclysm is a super naughty Armageddon effect while this is a dodgy Wrath effect. Incredibly situational is what this card is. You get to chose what everyone keeps which is very powerful but a lot of the time there will not be all that much choice. One planeswalker is the most common number to have in play. The same is true of artifacts or enchantments, it will be rare to ever get to kill much beyond creatures. Only things like affinity will be really punished by this card. If you are primarily hitting dorks with this you are likely a lot better of with a Wrath of God or Austere Command/Akroma's Vengeance. When they have lots or dorks and you have just one this will be good, unfortunately there are too many decks and sitations that won't often out up more than one threat at a time, especially if they know you are playing this or other Wrath effects. Occasionally this will still pack more than enough punch to be of cube power levels but no way near often enough to actually get a spot. Mostly this is a hoser card and therefore not something I really want in my cube.

Magmatic Insight - 8

One of the most interesting cards on the spoiler. One mana and drawing cards has me immediately interested. This is part Tormented Voice, part Forgotten Cave, and part Mox Diamond. It is not card advantage, it is sort of card quality but in an odd way and makes it very curious as to where you will find it. I liken it to Mox Diamond because it is a card that will be unplayable in your hand while you don't have a spare land. That means it will be vastly more playable in the various decks that you can find a Mox Diamond, perhaps those with Land Tax or Life from the Loam. One way to look at this card is as a one directional card quality spell. It really helps with floods but does nothing in a screw. As such you want to be skewing your land to spell ratio more into the lands when playing with Magmatic Insight than you otherwise would. Molten Vortex is another interesting new card that also lets you get value from excess lands cheaply and between the pair should allow some quite different new takes on red decks. Another situation where this card will shine is where you have lots of other powerful draw effects, due to the lands rations you need to play in decks to get off the ground you will find most of the time that if you are drawing a lot of cards you will wind up with a lot of excess lands in hand. This is a cheap and effective tool to get a lot more mileage from your draw spells and engines. Like Brainstorm, it provides a great deal of initial momentum as a card quality effect as you have multiple new cards in your hand ready for use immediately. It is a great prowess trigger for a red card, it is a great fueller of delve and some other graveyard mechanics. This is a great card, brilliant design and exactly what magic needs. It is not however an auto include, which for a good one mana red card quality effect is very impressive. You need to play this appropriately for it to do good things. I can see this in lots and lots of decks but I can also see myself adapting the builds of those decks so as to better work with this card. I am very excited to play with this. More like it please! There will be lots of interesting midgame choices with this card. Imagine you are on turn three, you have made your 3rd land, have a 4th in hand along with a 4 drop. Your only play for the turn are Young Pyromancer and Magmatic Insight. Suddenly you are faced with loads of options, how important is the 4 drop? How many lands do you have in your deck, that you can lay untapped such that with 3 more draws you should see one and still make the 4 drop next turn. You are almost certainly firing off the Insight at this point but are you doing it before the Pyromancer in the hope of finding a better selection of things to cast? Do you mostly need a burn spell for his dork that will otherwise wreak you? If so you are probably forgoing the free 1/1 and digging first, if you are wanting for nothing you are probably flopping out the Pyromancer and then popping the insight. This card is comparable to Faithless Looting in that it opens the colour wide to new and exciting things. They are both forms of card quality as well but function very differently but they do worlds of work making red a less one dimensional colour.

Blood-Cursed Knight -2

Meh, too gold and reliant on support to be worth it. It is just a decent tempo dork with good stats and abilities for the mana, it isn't actually doing anything of much. Vampire tribal deck perhaps....

Foundry of the Consuls - 2

Not exciting but not awful either. Basically another take on Gargoyle Castle. A colourless land you can trade in for some dorks when you have no further need of the mana. These kinds of lands are basically never good enough in decks with coloured spells but do get a spot of play in the mono artifact decks that can be done. A pair on 1/1 artifacts is a less potent threat than a 3/4 but they have a lot more potential synergy and utility.

Willbreaker - 0

A limp body for the mana that not only needs you to have targetting effects but also must survive to do much of anything. With the likes of Treachery, Vedalken Shackles and Sower of Temptation on offer this isn't getting a look in.

Anchor to the Aether - 4

This is to Repulse as Memory Lapse is to Remand. It is sorcery but it also offers a scry for 1 to make up for this. Broadly you want this kind of effect to be instant because of where you will play it and the extra value you can gain from it being instant. That said there are some very good resource starvation decks that hurt mana bases and prevent the drawing of many new cards. In such decks this would be a lock in.

Calculated Dismissal - 0

A Mana Leak for three with a scry 2 thrown in should you manage spell mastery. I would just rather a Dissolve than this, if you are paying three mana for your counter then you want to be assured it will work. I can't see this ever being used in cube.

Consul's Lieutenant - 6

A bit fiddly and vulnerable to get working however it is still a 2/1 first strike for WW making it an acceptable two drop when that is all you get out of it. Early this will find becoming renown fairly easy, white has pump, protection, tap and removal should it find itself facing down something with 3 or more toughness. Later on it will be harder against most decks but just having a two drop that is something they don't want connecting is fairly helpful. Once you connect you have a lot more of a card on your hands than Precinct Captain. A 3 power first striker than pumps your attackers will usually need to die and likely won't too soon as otherwise it would probably have died when a 2/1! A bit narrow as I only really see myself playing this in white weenie and heavy white token decks but both are strongly supported archetypes in my cube presently. This is easily powerful enough to be one of the better two drops for those decks and deserve a cube slot.

Sigil of Valour - 2

A bit narrow in application but quite a cheap way to get that Sublime Archangel feeling. If you are making lots of gribbly little dorks then this will cheaply allow you to attack with a fatty each turn. Thing is that you can do that with other equipment like Swords that are not otherwise prohibitive and offer some bonus utility. Not enough for cubes on the whole but one of the better equipment we have seen in a long time.

Swift Reckoning - 5

Very comparable to Journey to Nowhere. Both hit any kind of dork and both start out life as sorcery speed cards. This can be instant but only destroys and needs to hit tapped things. Journey risks the thing coming back. Both are a long way behind Valorous Stance in power but still both in the top ten white creature spot removal cards right behind the Stance. It is certainly the most Doom Blade / Go for the Throat style card white has on offer and may even be slightly better all round. It is that white has so much better cards on offer and not the actual power of this card than means it is unlikely to see much play.

Psychic Rebuttal - 3

This is going to be a big name in the world of sideboards for magic formats across the board. For my cube I am unsure as to its place, I hate including sideboard only cards unless they are very broad and maindeckable should you wish, such as Disenchant. This is somewhat of a 2 mana Deflection, yes you can only do things that target you and not your stuff, yes, you have to have spell mastery for the full effect. You are still not too miffed about countering something and not getting to copy it, you have done the main job of the card. The thing is that only really red and black target players with instants and sorceries. There is the odd card in other colours like Wing Shards but not enough to make for a playable card. Hit a Mind Twist with it and win the game, hit a Lightning Bolt with it and be very far ahead, most of the rest of the time sit in hand doing nothing. Enough looting effects could stand to make it a good inclusion but I am inclined away from even bothering to test it. Great, but simply too narrow and to much of a hate spell.

Ghirapur Aether Grid - 1

Potential combo card but likely to sit gathering dust for the rest of time. No immediate combos, let alone good ones, jump to mind for this yet.

Thornbow Archer - 1

Likely better than Pulse Tracker but you have to do a lot more than trump the Tracker to be at all interesting and this doesn't do that. Come back again when you have deathtouch and we will talk more seriously.

Gather the Pack - 7

These kinds of cards have become much better in cube of late with all the power delve cards from Tarkir block. Mulch, Grisly Salvage and the mighty Satyr Wayfinder are all quite useful even with light no synergy with graveyard things. As card quality goes two mana and sorcery is usually on the far end of playable however as a green card this is far less problematic, especially one focusing on finding creatures. Five cards is a deep dig and should rarely miss in a sensible deck. Only finding creatures makes in a touch narrower than the others but even less of an issue that it is a sorcery. Impulse is a great benchmark for card quality effects and is a nice fair cube card that sees plenty of play as it is so rounded. Obviously you have to be after creatures with Gather the Pack which makes it unlike Impulse but then it digs a card deeper, offers graveyard synergy and can get you a two for one ensuring it passes the Impulse test with flying colours. Compared to Mulch you will hit two creatures with this more often than you will hit two lands most often. The problem is actually the spell mastery. In a green base deck and one with a high creature count at that is not going to have spell mastery quickly or even at all. Having a card that scales well with two separate card types makes it have negative synergy with itself. This is fine as the card offers so much for so little. Just getting one guy of your choice and bulking out the yard should be getting it done for you. I like this a lot and expect it to see a decent amount of play. I expect to see it in green ramp decks that have a higher number of Rampant Growth effects than normal. I expect to see it be plenty viable in two or more colour green decks that are not too heavy white. Spell mastery will be much easier to get with red, black or blue in your green deck. I love this card, it is cheap, it gives lots of options, requires thought upon including in construction and is all the things I want to see more of in magic.

Thopter Engineer - 4.5

A subtle but powerful card that has a home in a couple of decks. It is very narrow outside of that and may not have the raw power to hold onto a cube slot but in the right place this is brutal. This is two bodies, some immediate impact on the game, fairly cheap, offering lots of two way synergy with artifacts and just a fairly interesting card. Giving haste to my metalworker which then instantly casts a hasting fat artifact creature sounds potent. Not being a complete dud like Lightning Greaves when nothing else is going on sounds good too. In affinity this is a brutally good card too. Some evasion, an artifact and haste for all your many men. Sadly I don't think a 3 mana 2/4 that is part flying and hasting is quite enough for any deck without a heavy artifact theme going on.

Undercity Troll - 0

Rather have me a River Boa. This isn't doing enough and the regeneration is far too expensive.

Mage-Ring Network - 0

Just directly worse than the coloured versions in Time Spiral block. No thanks.

Throwing Knife - 1

Not the worst utility card but still just all round too pricey to see any cube play. Give me Mortarpod over this I reckon. 

War Horn - 0

There are just better ways to pump your dorks than this when you have enough of them to pump on mass.

Orbs of Warding - 2

Quite pricey and a little bit of a hate card. This will be pretty brutal for some decks and somewhat irrelevant for others which makes it pretty unplayable most of the time. Perhaps viable in a Goblin Welder deck with discard outlets. This feels a little like a Worship or a Solitary Confinement. Situationally appropriate but not much fun to play. Fortunately this one is a little too narrow for my main cube and therefore should only see play in the most appropriate of decks and therefore also not very often.

Prism Ring - 3

Tablet of the Guilds is likely more playable than this as this is probably only gaining you enough life to be worth it in a mono deck. For Necro decks this seems better than Ivory Tower, no great accolade but none the less, a role that needs filling. I can see this getting a little more play than Tablet because it is typically the mono decks that need these stopgap kinds of cards, and the more exotic ones at that so not much play even then. This will spend its life in the C cube, immediately to be returned there if it ever gets played.

Sword of the Animist - 3

A small stats boost and the ability to ramp are both quite nice but really how useful is it and for the cost of a Jitte, almost a Sword. The earliest you are using this is turn three and that is only if you are lucky, turn four will be much more common and then what are you ramping to, six drops? In which case why are you playing equipment, six drops don't need it to get the job done. I guess with lots of draw and mana intense cards, like equipment, this gets more viable but I still don't love it. I simply cannot think of a deck where I would play this over another equipment or that I would play this over a non equipment card. 

Iroas's Champion - 2

Weak compared to what you can get with double strike and clunky gold but potentially some use in a deck built around abusing double strike for the redundancy. 

Possessed Skaab - 2

Overcost and hard to repeatedly abuse but being a zombie may well secure this the odd place in obscure tribal mixes.

Top Cards from Origins

1.   Jace

2.   Kytheon/Gideon
3.   Send to Sleep
4.   Magmatic Insight
5.   Nissa
6.   Abbot of Keral Keep
7.   Harbinger of the Tides
8.   Liliana
9.   Magmatic Vortex
10. Gather the Pack