Friday, 11 September 2015

Completed Battle for Zendikar Preliminary Review

Finally completed the BfZ cube review. Black seems to have gotten the best deal overall which is a much needed occurrence. Sadly the set is one of the weakest in a long time and has fewest cards going into the main cube per cards in set since Alara block. I like the set, it looks great to draft and interesting for standard but a lot of the interlinking interest will sadly be lost on the cube as it just ins't there power wise.

Oblivion Sower 5.5

Oddly this reminds me of Sundering Titan. Mostly it is the body, big but vanilla and weighted on the back end. It also stands to alter the mana in play in your favour. Assuming no other interactions this card should get you near two land on average which is all quite acceptable. It is easy to cast and play and should be really good filler in artifact style ramp decks. Although good value and easily playable it is a bit expensive and niche for a lot of decks. What pushes it up significantly to my mind is the interactions this has with a lot of cube mechanics. I can see this guy getting you a lot of land, like a lot! You can and will hit four off the top now and again but it is more the interaction with sac lands and delve/Deathrite Shaman that will fuel this guy in a reliable manner. Not all decks use graveyards as a resource nor have looting effects to improve their card quality but enough do that Sower will give you a game ending swing in mana reasonably often. Ingest doesn't seem great as yet but if any make it to the cube they too will increase the potency of this card. The final relevant point about this card is that a random exile of 10% of your deck is pretty terrifying for a lot of archetypes. An Aetherling based control deck or one that relies on Elixir of Immortality, basically any combo deck all fear having their cards exiled. To be quite frank, any slightly slow deck finds it pretty uncomfortable.

Retreat to Kazandu 3.5

I really like this but fear it is a little too low impact and situational to cut it. Unless you are making at least one land a turn for the rest of the game this card isn't enough. I think part of why I like it is that it reminds me of Bow of Nylea, a card I love too much. It also reminds me a bit of Zuran Orb. Retreat sadly has a lot of issues compared to either. Bow offers more utility and is not dependent on you having land drops. Zuran Orb is both free and offers life for all lands laid, not just those you are to lay. This card loves Fastbond but presently that isn't a thing in my cube so that won't be helping it get a place.

Sheer Drop 1

Sorcery is the death of this card, it is just too slow and unreliable to be a consideration even if it does have some lovely late game scaling with the awaken mechanic.

Forerunner of Slaughter 4

Playable but unexciting. Spike Jester is better for this kind of thing, the mana less on the haste is far more significant than the bonus toughness or the ability to give other colourless things haste. With a shift in meta and a large influx of top quality playable colourless cards this might edge in to the cube but for now it is surplus to requirements.

Dominator Drone 0.5

It looks like it should be good because it has so many keywords and text however ingest and devoid do not overly excite. This will only ever see play in decks where ingest or devoid are themes and odds on they will be no better than tier two decks.

Guardian of Tazeem 3

Just not quite enough I fear. Slightly better than Air Elemental stats is OK but not close to doing it alone. Then you have landfall based one shot Send to Sleeps. Nice in slow mindrangy things but pretty useless against weenie decks. Needing sac lands to be able to do it outside of your turn makes it a bunch weaker than cards like Opposition, Send to Sleep or even the humble Icy Manipulator! Tamiyo is the real reason this is not getting in my cube, it taps right away and can hit lands and is in right the same place on the curve.

Hero of Goma Fada 0

The Ally theme cannot be ruled out quite yet but unless there are a lot of cheap and powerful ones with flash this guy can be more easily ruled out. Very expensive for the body.

Hedron Archive 5.5

For when Mind Stone is too cold but Dreamstone Hedron is too hot! I much prefer this to Worn Powerstone but suspect that Thran Dynamo is still the more desirable card overall, This gives you some nice longevity and utility while remaining an acceptable midrange ramp card. This should be pretty decent redundancy for the cube.

Defiant Bloodlord 2

Cheeky card but vastly too expensive to be abusing or even really playing.

Omnath, Loucs of Rage 3

Obviously very powerful but there is just no room in the cube for this kind of card. When you are paying seven mana in more than one colour you need a card that is always insane and utterly game breaking. Atarka ensures this card isn't comparing favourably.

Gideon's Reproach 5.5

This is remarkably playable given how limp and unexciting it looks. Celestial Flare was a thing in cube for a while and served a purpose. What killed it was the WW cost and the fact that Wingshards was quite substantially better at doing that job. This is less powerful in its ability to kill things than Flare or Shards but it is targetable. A two mana instant targetted removal spell that kills most things is good. It is more of a control card as it works so much better on the defensive. With white having little depth to its instant removal cards this may well wind up in the cube getting a bunch of play. Anything that helps reduce the burden on Path and Plow is a good thing to my mind. Valorous Stance is  great but it isn't enough. It feels too much at the moment like the potency of your white deck is primarily based on the number of Path/Plow you picked up for it.

Kozilek's Channeler  2

Neither the body nor the ramping are exciting for the mana cost. I cannot ever see myself thinking this is a better call than playing Hedron Archive or Gilded Lotus. Nor can I see myself preferring it to something like a Wurmcoil Engine. Eldrazi tribal deck is about the only chance this has....

Mist Intruder 1

Another one of those cards that looks like it should be good for the keywording quantity and text volume. If ingest is a thing, this is a likely staple card in the deck. In the way that IF proliferate was a thing Thrumming Bird would be a mainstay.

Blight Herder 2

If the scions were unconditional this would be a very potent card indeed. Very potent. As it stands the work required in play and design to get this to trigger at all reliably simply isn't worth it. It is the biggest help to ingest cards so far but is barely a drop in the ocean of what is needed for that to be a thing a therefore this to be playable. The most interesting thing about this card as it stands is that it appears to be a way to deal with Aetherling.

Oran Reif Hydra 0

Bah, what an awful waste of a card.

Radiant Flames 4

Pretty powerful but sadly too narrow as you always want the option on doing 3 to everything. In a 3 colour deck this is the closest thing out there to Toxic Deluge. Slightly worse as a Wrath but given that it doesn't hurt you at all that is a big win. The control over what you can kill with this is really nice, it allows you to do some naughty things in a midrange sort of deck like Pernicious Deed by having the option to do 1 to 3 damage as best suits the board.

Ruinous Path 5.5

The problem with this card is where do you want to play it? Control hate the sorceries, especially the pricier ones like this. Aggro decks do not love the 3 mana 1 for 1 removal cards that much either and the awaken kicker is a little on the pricey side to come up that often. With Lake of the Dead and the like black aggro can potentially use the full card but I'm not getting excited about it. Mostly it is a midrange card that competes with things like Maelstrom Pulse. It offers some acceptable redundancy to a desirable effect but at the cost of being pretty weak by cube standards. In this respect it is not unlike the new dual land cycle with the basic land types.

Titan's Presence 2

A card I wish was playable but fully expect it not to be. Three mana instant exile is good, playable in any colour is very good. Needing colourless creatures to have it do anything is awful however and makes this unreasonably narrow. So much so that this isn't going to be playable in anything you could make from just the cards in my A cube. In most normal situations I thing you want 25% plus colourless creatures in the make up of your deck (including lands) for this to be a consideration. Ideally some of those creatures would be big things that will kill off any target and that will sit in your hand a while.

The New Basic Duals 7.5

I have done a rather extensive article looking at these already. Summary, these will do a lot for cube but are themselves pretty low power. They will give consistency and options but at a small cost in power. An interesting thing about these cards is that they are easily the lowest power level card ever printed that was such a clear lock in to the cube!

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger 6

While this might not quite be Emrakul power level it does cost two thirds of the mana and should be comparably game ending. Ten is castable, not in every deck but certainly worlds more than can consider 15. Ulamog sits where Blightsteel once sat in the decks where it was cast rather than Tinkered. Ulamog is cheaper, does more and is every bit as much of a threat. Two attacks from Ulamog is game over, one is usually game over. The 10/10 indestructible isn't impossible to kill in the cube but it is about as hard as it gets and even if you do kill it you have been three for oned in quite a brutal way. Exiling two things is great, it is an out to a lot of things and makes you a lot less worried about your big threat sticking around. All in all this is both a massive threat and a good solution that struggles to not win the game and struggles even harder to not get good value. Not for every deck by any means, made much fairer by the fact you do want to cast him the good old fashioned way and not cheeky begger Tinker him out. Thinking about it, although you can't Tinker him you can Reanimate him, Show and Tell him or Sneak Attack him and he is still fairly scary, just a bit less guaranteed value.  If modern was 40 card decks this and Gyro's Vengeance would be nasty.

Gideon, Ally of Zendikar 6

All in all a rather fair and rounded planeswalker. Should any sort of Ally thing be a thing then there is a good chance of Gideon being fairly key. Being able to make an Ally each turn will be a huge boost to that mechanic. I suspect that will not be a thing as insular block mechanics rarely have the depth of cards to do what they need to do in cube even when they have two blocks supporting the theme. Even without Ally synergy Gideon is fairly playable. Churning out free 2/2s every turn, a reasonable starting loyalty and a generally useful, instantly usable ultimate ability are all good things. His plus is a little clunky but you are not in any rush to grow him for any specific purpose. While it has little use the turn you make him it does make for a pretty scary threat that needs dealing with. It will punish decks that cannot go on the offensive to take down Gideon in planeswalker form. If he gets free reign to get his beatdown on every turn there are not many cards you can stand up to that with for any length of time. Gideon presents a decent selection of options but they are all very much along the same lines. If you want board presence then Gideon is great for you, if not he ain't got much else to offer. He seems more powerful than any of the mono white Ajani planeswalker incarnations and quite a lot more playable due to his decent ability to protect himself. His weakness is that he is just worse than Knight-Errant and may well miss out on a bunch of his potential inclusions either because of Elspeth taking his place or just because he is a little bland and linear.

Nissa's Renewal 3.5

A three for one, a triple ramp and seven life. This card is a lot of value and will do a lot of work in helping you cast cards like Ulamog. Sadly it is narrow and unlikely to take the place of things like Primeval Titan. You need a lot of basic land for this to reliably get you your value in cube, you also need things that cost around the 10 mana mark or just consume a lot of mana for the ramp to be useful. I like the card, I think it could do big things in standard but for cube it is too narrow to see play in many decks at all.

Coastal Discovery 2

Not unplayable but also quite a far cry from Mulldrifter. Card draw is pretty hard to call unplayable even in the cube and this does come with a little more punch than some. Despite this it is extremely low power on the low end and fairly low power on the top end as well.

Retreat to Emeria 1

Although dangerous in a white aggro deck it is too expensive and reliant on land drops. For this to be a consideration you would have to be an Ally deck.

Brood Butcher 1

A whole lot of things that amount to not enough. Too much mana for too few stats. The removal aspect is nice but the initial tempo gain from the card needed to be higher, say a 4/5 body or getting 2 scions for it to be playable. That or having no cost on the removal ability,

Fathom Feeder 4

This might have some similarity with Baleful Strix but it is really really not the same kind of card or in the same league of power level. Five to draw a card is a lot and is coming up rarely and late game only. It is an ok early play if you want to try and do some surviving however it will not then be around to draw you cards in the late game. A small deathtouch dork is fine but hardly exciting. If your goal is surviving then some actual removal would seem better. You get quite a lot of text and stuff for a two mana investment but it is somewhat all over the place and doesn't really feel like it has any sort of home.

Planar Outburst 0

There are so many options on mass removal in white that this doesn't come close. A bad five mana Wrath complete with an 8 mana option that feels a lot worse that cards like Martial Coup. Wizards hating on wrath effects at the moment it seems.

Desolation Twin 0

This is awful compared to what you could be doing with that mana. It is easy to survive this, easy to deal with this and not at all easy to cast this.

Statis Snare 3

This only really has a place in a deck that is abusing enchantments or Sun Titan effect themed decks. Devouring Light just seems better than Statis Snare in almost every way. Any aspect, the instant, the exile, the broad target range Light Comes up looking as good or better. And Devouring Light is not exactly premium white removal.

Scythe Leopard 6

Not a thrilling card but it has a place. Broadly Steppe Lynx is better however white has all of the choice in aggro one drops while green has mana critters and Experiment One. Scythe Leopard is a fairly reliable hitter and at least does something proactive if your misfiring lands. Green also has much better landfall cards than white giving you the capacity to do powerful things.

Bring to Light 4

Cool and interesting but not quite there for cube I fear. This doesn't start to get that exciting until you can throw four colours at it making it quite the gold card. As just a Simic card you can do a lot better for ways to find things. It has a nice perk in that you can go find a card and just leave it in exile, nice and safe, while you set up to use it. There is no "until end of turn" mechanic as there is on red cards with the play from exile gimmick.

Lumbering Falls 8.5

Joyful. Mostly I am pleased to have the rest of the dual man land cycle on offer. Just having the five was a little exclusive, you felt ripped off when you lose to theirs but didn't have your own. They are not unreasonably powerful and they make magic a better game however having very few on offer did rather warp things and detract from their upsides. These are lands that offer everything, they give you mana like lands should, they fix your colours and then when all is said and done, you are flooding out or running low on gas, they step up and give you things to do. They are like quests from the WoW TCG.

So, how good is Lumbering Falls itself rather than just because it is a dual man land? At first look I thought it was only better than Lavaclaw Reaches out of the original five. This is a pretty good place for it to sit as far as I am concerned, the black red one is the weakest but it is still always played in Rakdos decks. I think that they will make things better if they are that end of the power scale and not up with the mighty Celestial Colonnade. As I spent more time thinking about it I found I liked Lumbering Falls more and more. I am not sure where it sits now in my mind, certainly not above Colonnade but potentially above any of the others. Hexproof is good. Naughty good. Man lands are already a pain in the arse to kill. The removal options are warped by the existence of them. Man lands are pretty much the primary reason a control deck is desperate for its spot creature kill to be instant. Let us play the little game of name the cards you can kill Lumbering Falls with outside of combat? I came up with Diabolic Edict, Wing Shards and well setup or very lucky miracles. Sure, you can Wasteland it, but only if they don't have mana up to activate it in response. And well done, the £100 uncommon is an OK solution.... There is nothing that reliably kills this or that isn't fairly easy to play around. You can't even counter this. Considering that it is likely harder to stop than Aetherling, let alone the mere likes of True-Name Nemesis or Thrun. Lumbering Falls is the new persistent threat. It is only a 3/3 which isn't huge but it is significant. It makes planeswalkers a lot more uncomfortable, it is a decent enough clock but then Treetop Village and Creeping Tar Pit all do that too, likely better. It is because of the hexproof that I think falls will operate differently to other man lands. You will be able to reliably use it as a blocker against a lot of decks without fear of having it killed. If you are blocking with it only combat tricks or post combat wrath effects deal with it and those are easy to rule out and not that common in situations where you want to be blocking things. Lumbering falls is usable much sooner than most other man lands in terms of risking getting it killed. It may not be great on the offense but it is still significant there and more than makes up  for it with its unique defensive capabilities. Four mana to animate just a 3/3 seems quite a lot but I think it needed to be for the hexproof not to make this insane. Incredibly interesting card I am excited to play with.

Conduit of Ruin 2.5

I cannot resist a card that reduces costs! Six mana cost reducers are not a great thing in general but this is also a fairly fat body and comes with some semblance of Tutor effect. It is a narrow card but it isn't unplayable.

Undergrowth Champion 3.5

Looks a bit slow and boring but it could be a total beating. The big problem this has is that it isn't very good as a 3 drop, you really want to get at  least one counter on it right away for protection. Having this shocked when you invested your turn three in making it is weakness. I think this needed something like trample to make it cube worthy.

Ob Nixilis Reignited 6.5

Very fair and a little boring but perfectly cube worthy. Black is not overdone with diversity in its planeswalker choices and this will help it out a lot. I do have the other Ob planeswalker in my cube but he is on the narrow side. I much prefer the self interaction and card design on Black Oath but I fear Reignited is simply more effective, useful and reliable. Reignited has decent starting loyalty, the ability to protect himself, card advantage on both top abilities including card advantage when you grow him in loyalty. His ultimate is slow but will win any long game, but then so will drawing cards and killing creatures in those situations. Three loyalty is a lot to kill a creature, it does not represent good value, certainly not a s good as two life and loyalty for a 5/5 flier. The value of the effect is not as important as the effect itself which is something you will want a lot of the time in games. The only mild annoyance with this card is that it has no capacity to gain life. If you are under significant pressure at low life from a burn deck you might find this becoming a Brainspoil. Black is no stranger to wanting lifegain to fuel some of its cards at least.

Kiora, Master of the Depths 5.5

Part Garruk Wildspeaker, part Jace, Architect of Thought. Despite both of those being great planeswalkers this new Kiora is the parts of those that are not great at protecting her. Untap a dork might, but only if you have a suitable dork in the first place. Certainly she is powerful, but she is in direct competition with other Kiora as well as all the green and blue planeswalkers many of which feel more powerful or at least more able to perform their desired roles independently. As a gold card competing with lots of powerful things I don't expect Kiora, Master of the Depths to see all that much play. Her big saving grace is a good chunk of starting loyalty which makes her a lot better against red decks and somewhat less sad about having poor self protection. Her plus one is broadly useful and has some reasonable utility. Her -2 is good value, very useful and offers some synergy potential but it is the only way you are getting guaranteed value from her and it leaves her very vulnerable. I can see myself playing this often in a sacrificial manner rather than trying to get lots of value from her. Just being able to draw two cards, put some things in the bin and absorb a swing will often be worth the mana. Her ultimate is decent but not something you are ever doing quickly. Usually it will be done because you are running low on library and need to stop with the -2 rather than it actually being a good thing to do with the Kiora.

Zada, Hedron Grinder 1

Everyone loves a Hill Giant. I can't think of a combo application for this card which means he is only really something you would play as a support synergy thing in say a heroic themed deck. As such a Hill Giant is just too weak for this to be a consideration. Find me a Splinter Twin style combo for this and then perhaps he will see some play but that seems very unlikely.

Smothering Abomination 3

This is far too useless without support to see play. It is quite powerful in its way but would wind up being a 4 mana cycling card enough to make it terrible. Even in a deck based around cards like Evolutionary Leap this is just too expensive and unexciting to be worth playing over an actually good card.

Shrine of the Forsaken Gods 1.5

Seven lands?!? Lets put this in the place where we put Nissa's Renewal. By the time you have this many lands out you are not going to have much at all left to be ramping into. As if it wasn't narrow enough it also limits you to colourless things...

Tandem Tactics 2.5

This is a lot of card for the mana but it is a rather narrow card. A combat trick is narrow for cube and one that to yield full value needs you to have two targets both in need of a +1/+2 boost is really really narrow. I don't see this ever getting played but I imagine there are plenty of situations that is would be perfect in. That is combat tricks for you.

Tajuru Warcaller 1

Vulnerable and very narrow. I am starting to get scared that there may be a viable Ally tribal deck for cube. If so this represents a pretty spicy Craterhoof Behemoth on the cheap for them. Obviously this won't get a look in outside of an Ally deck.

Akoum Hellkite 0

Way to small for the mana and way to slow and pathetic on the landfall trigger for this to be something you would play in cube.

Ulamog's Nulifier 3

Mystic Snake got some body work done and came back flying, tougher and easier on the mana base. Sadly he picked up some conditions on his countering capacity and became basically unplayable as a result. You have to be playing so many exile effects to reliably have the ability to return two of them to the graveyard. Dimir is the place to be exiling cards but regardless of that the card is narrow whatever you do. Either it is unplayable or it is OK but only in one or two very specific deck designs.

Roil Spout 3.5

Fairly limp as gold cards go but something that will see a bit of play I am sure. Back on top effects like this, Chittering Rats, Memory Lapse and the like get better the more of them you have. They punish bad draws and are very tedious to play against. The awaken is much more interesting on this card than most of the others as it has really good synergy with the effect. Games in which you are putting stuff back on top of libraries tend to be resource starved ones. Being able to get a threat out of one of your disruption cards in the latter part of a game is going to be punishing. It is also one of the most acceptable awaken costs by far.

Grove Rumbler 4

This could be pretty scary but it is too bland and narrow rather than too weak for me to include.

Sky Rider Elf 1

Way too fair for cube. Reasonable value and scaling but who wants to be playing fair vanilla dorks.

Resolute Blademaster 1

For if your not playing green in your tribal Ally deck....

Drana's Emissary 1.5

All the creature types for tribal synergies and not even the worst creature for the mana but again, all to fair and aimless for cube play.

Herald of Kozilek 5

Now we are talking, mana cost reductions on a cheap card! This is one of the best reasons to be playing devoid cards thus far and also has great synergy with artifacts. This is especailly good given that Izzet is the best support colours for artifact based decks. I have rated it cautiously as I have little artifact synergies in my cube at present however this would certainly be more impressive in older incarnations of my cube. I am also a little wary of a three mana ramp card for colourless cards only that itself has two different colours in its cost. Helm of Awakening is far quicker and more convenient if you are that eager to cut costs. That all said, make this in the right sort of deck and it will hold the ground, apply some pressure and make your subsequent plays more powerful and comfortable.

Catacomb Sifter 6.5

This is a bit too much card to turn down. It is a little aimless but does enough for the cost to just be good. It is incredibly versatile and gives you loads of options. I like how it is either a 3 mana investment for 3/4 worth of stats or two for a 2/3 with a bonus scry. It has elements of so many cards, Blade Splicer, Kozilek's Predator, Reaper of the Wilds, Viscera Seer. All of the various aspects of this card can be useful in a wide array of situations so although a little minor it will really struggle not to be useful.

Void Winnower 1

Well this is just pain silly. It is easy to kill for its cost, it isn't that serious of a threat and a disruption effect is pretty poor when it comes on a 9 mana thing. Sure, you can cheat it into play but it still seems weak. Tis also a bit random on what decks the evens thing will screw and which will not be so bothered.

Greenwarden of Murasa 5.5

Hmm, hard to know. This reminds me of Woodland Bellower somewhat. Just a six mana value dork. I think I prefer this on balance however Bellower does perform a different role that is going to be far more useful in the right deck. There are two reasons I prefer Greenwarden to Bellower. The first is that regrowth effects get better as a game progresses while 3 drop dorks from your library get worse. Regrowth effects in general are great in powerful formats as well as singleton formats and have some great specific utility for certain archetypes. The biggest weakness of Eternal Witness is that it is often a poor three drop as you have no targets for it yet. This is a weakness you will find far less apparent on Greenwarden. The second reason I prefer Greenwarden to Bellower is that the body is more relevant. It is a little smaller but affords value, potentially terrifying value should it die. As such you may be forced into horrendous lines of play simply to avoid them getting back things you cannot beat. I like this guy, I don't think he will see super amounts of play as slots in decks get very thin past four drops but he is probably greens second best and most widely playable six drop creature after Primeval Titan.

Hedron Network 3.5

I don't really understand why this card exists. It is like a half wrath meets Oblivion Ring but colourless. It is probably the best out a Gruul deck has against a Sphinx of the Steel Wind at least! Not sure in which situation you would play this in your deck blind but it is a very interesting card. Seems like it has some silly interactions with cards like Worldgorger Dragon? So yeah, maybe some silly combo card, maybe just a bad out to things or most likely just a dust collector.

Shambling Vent 8.5

Another total winner right here. So this may look a little uninteresting and low impact but there more I analyse this card the more nuts I think it will be. Firstly, it is well worth noting that in terms of life swing the Shambling Vent is the equal most efficient man land on offer alongside Treetop Village and Mishra's Factory/Mutavault, all of which offer worse colour fixing. That means Shambling Vent is one of the best tempo man lands. You need your Raging Ravine to reach 7/7 before it starts to out efficiency the humble Vent. Lifelink is also great utility, it is a good counter to burn, it fuels a lot of black cards and it scales well with pump effects. Black is going to love having such a reliable lifegain card it can throw into a lot of decks very safely. A 2/3 might seem small, especially compared to a 3/4 for the same activation in Stirring Wildwood but I am fairly sure Vent will prove the better card than Wildwood. Reach is only a defensive ability and man lands are not cards you really want to be using on the defensive, it is all a bit too risky a lot of the time. Lifelink works just as well for attacking as it does for blocking and it will also aid your defensive capability when it is only doing the former. As such, aggressive players will not just have to consider the feasibility of attacking into Shambling Vent but also if they can afford to be attacked back by it. Shambling Vent is certainly a lot less powerful than Celestial Colonnade but at three to activate I suspect we will see it in creature form much more often and starting to do useful work from that much sooner. Having 3 toughness is huge for the card, it means it trumps the utility dorks. The reason that Lavaclaw Reaches is the weakest manland is that it just trades with so many lame things that little the battlefield. No one wants to trade their good dual land and 4 mana into the weak half of Snapcaster Mage. Shambling Vent is nicely safe from suffering that problem. The dual manlands are all good and rating them serves little purpose but despite this, with the seven I know about, this could well be number two.

Prism Network 0

Slow, expensive and very narrow indeed. Not for cube usage.

Transgress the Mind 5.5

Not an amazing card and rather similar to Addle in a lot of ways. A skillful player will probably get a little more utility on what they pluck from an enemies hand with Addle compared to Transgress however the weaker player will not. Being safer but less skill intense is not something I want to encourage in the cube however the exile clause adds a decent chunk of value to the card. Essentially both Addle and Trangress are pricier than the various good 1 mana cards like this but are much more reliable (or at least less painful) at hitting important cards in the majority of matchups. Things are slowing up enough and midrangy that a two mana discard card is going to be just fine. Exile is situationally good but will be brutal in some of those occasions making Transgress quite frightening. Mostly it hurts combo and grindy control however it is also annoying for Snapcaster Mage / Eternal Witness Effects. A solution to Squee, Vengevine and the likes as well.

March from the Tomb 1

Not exactly Patriarch's Bidding but at least some reasonable redundancy for it in an Ally deck. The Ally theme is being a lot more pushed in this block than the last but it is still pretty clunky and all over the place in colours.

From Beyond 1

Cute card but far too slow, and likely narrow for the cube.

Brutal Expulsion 4.5

Jilt meets Venser, Shaper Savant. Expulsion is more powerful than either but also substantially less playable. It really needed to do 3 damage to any target or cost 3 mana for it to be a cube mainstay. At four it is just a bit too slow and situational. Cards like this want to be convenient and sadly this isn't quite there. Venser is a dork that can basically be thrown out at any point pretty usefully and he is also mono coloured. Jilt can be cast for two mana and again, in just one colour if not kicked. A lot of the time these three cards will add up to much the same effect. The advantages Expulsion has over Jilt and Venser are all ones that are quite narrow such as taking out protection creatures or exiling persist ones. Expulsion is top end bonus value/utility so to speak while the others are bottom end value/utility which is what you want. A card that is powerful enough for cube but that is not balanced in a way that suits the card type nor one that increases its playability.

Akoum Firebird 3

I want to like this card but don't see it being quite the right package. Basically this is not great in an aggro deck because you are not getting much recursion value from it at all as six is just so steep. Unfortunately it is not a control card either because it must attack each turn making it a pretty useless blocker. Red midrange isn't really a thing either and I can't see this being exciting there because it is rather linear in what it does for you and there are lots of powerful things to chose from instead. Flamewake and Chandra's Phoenix are both far better placed to see play. At 3 they provide great utility for a much wider selection of decks and are both substantially more reasonable on the recursion costs. Basically Akoum Phoenix isn't coming close to doing the role of Thundermaw Hellkite but it also fails at doing the role of the 3 mana Phoenix's as well.

Painful Truths 3

Another card I want to like but can't see it getting it done. I struggle to see how it is outperforming Night's Whisper or Read the Bones. Sure, you draw one extra card but you are paying heavily for that in extra life and mana. This is all also on top of this really being a 3 colour card. Unless you can hit this for 3 it is strictly worse than the comparisons. The variation control over X is far less interesting on this card than it is on the red equivalent.. Once you are three colours this card looks even less good, you rarely see Night's Whisper or Read the Bones outside of mono black decks and I can't ever recall seeing them in a 3 colour deck. If you are blue you have less painful, less sorcery speed ways of drawing cards. If you are Abzan or Jund you just have so many much better cards that this shouldn't be much of a consideration either...

Crumble to Dust 1

Not really doing a lot in cube but potentially quite obnoxious to some current modern mana bases in decks with splashes. Exile a land is somewhat exclusive but at 4 mana it isn't going to be getting any love in cube.

Noyan Dar, Roil Shaper 3

Gold, legend, merfolk, ally... this dude is a lot of stuff. Mostly he is a 4/4 for five that only does anything when you get round to casting instants and/or sorceries. He may see some play in a merfolk deck but I doubt it. The same somewhat goes for allies although the pool is sufficiently small there that anything could happen with a much higher chance it isn't close to competitive.

Endless One 2

Flexible but for a vanilla dork you can't extend that to versatile. Neither can you call this powerful, at every step of the way it is a significantly weaker card than anything else in the cube. This might be good because it has the potential to have lots of synergy with things being cheap, colourless and Eldrazi.

Ally Encampment 1

Another one for the allies deck I will never build or play in all likelihood. A must have for any constructed ally decks that might arise.

Sanctum of Ugin 2.5

A land that tutors! Sadly only for a narrow range of things and only when you have reached the late game. This may have some utility in combo decks and ramp decks but it is a high price to pay.

Dust Stalker 0.5

There would need to be some serious devoid synergies for this to get a look in. The number of things that outperform it in the slot and role that are available to play in the cube are huge. It isn't weak as such, just savagely outclassed by a lot of cards. The thing I like most about it is that you can have some control over the self bounce, it could be OK against wraths and things. But then we have dash for that now....

Horribly Awry 0.5

I can't quite rule it out yet as both devoid and the extra potency and synergy of exile effects are yet to be fully appreciated. That said, Remove Soul is far too narrow and low power for the cube and broadly I prefer Remove Soul to this poor imitation. Sure, this exiles which is quite nice but no way near as useful as it is when found on removal rather than countermagic. The inability to hit five drops and up just makes this unplayable I feel. It scales the wrong way for countermagic, it is unreasonably narrow yet it is not undercosted given these failings.

Spawning Bed 5

Now this is quite the interesting card. I fear it is a bit low impact early game to get much cube play a little like how Desolate Lighthouse has gone. I hope I am wrong as this card gives quite a lot of options and utility once you do reach a point where sacing it is an option. You get to fog three attackers, perhaps voiding their lifelink or their Jitte counters. You get a mini army which scales well with global pump or can force through a few damage around blocker when needed to chump attack down a planeswalker. Eldrazi Scion's are pretty useful little blighters. Rather than board presence you can also use the Bed as a ramp tool. If you end of their turn sac if off you will have access to two more mana in your next turn than you otherwise would have. This could be used for a big Upheaval turn or a big Sphinx's Revelation. Perhaps it would just be to throw down some super expensive fat card. I am not sure that many decks will be able to find room for this card but it certainly offers enough different stuff that it might find a home in unexpected places.

Woodland Wanderer 5

I don't like this card very much but if I am not mistaken it seems really obnoxiously powerful. Four mana can get you a 6/6 vigilance trample. At first I ruled it out as 4 colour cards need to be so special that just a fat undercost dork isn't coming close. Then I started to put it more into context and realised that green has such an abundance of random fixing that you have decent chance of making this a 6/6 in a three or even two colour deck. As a 5/5 it is still pretty serious and a 4/4 is fine. Four is a lot to pay for just fat so this may well see no play but it certainly won't be for lack of power.

Fertile Thicket 5

I am drawn to this land as it is card quality at not a great cost. Sadly for it a scry and some colour fixing is superior most of the time and so the Temples will get most of the play that this could have gotten. Fertile Thicket gives you the option to look for land meaning if you are flooding you probably elect not to use it. As such it is only doing things for you when you want more lands. I like the synergy it has with Oracle of Mul Daya and Dark Confidant, and against Goblin Guide but beyond that I cannot think of many more than that and they all are a little minor. Broadly speaking I cannot see the utility of this land offsetting the coming into play tapped and not being a forest enough for it to be any sort of regular but I do still like it quite a lot. There are just too many more relevant lands you need or want in your decks with too few slots to be able to afford luxuries like this. It is a bit like a backwards cycling land. Both are just bad forests when they are bad, one helps out in a mana screw, the other in a mana flood. Again though, like the Temples, the cycling lands are just more reliable and versatile than this appears to be and will continue to see a lot more play. A final note in favour of the Thicket is that having knowledge on what the bottom four or five cards of your deck are in a singleton 40 card deck format is pretty significant. It is worse than a scry immediately but that information will continue to be of use until you shuffle, which if it is a good chunk of turns away from when you use the Thicket could easily add up to more value than a scry for one.

Looming Spires 5

Very similar to Teetering Peak and the can't block one (Smouldering Spires). These used to see quite a bit of play back when things like Keldon Marauders and Hellspark Elemental were the two drops of choice. Red has moved on since then and can get sufficient value from its cards that a little bit extra on its lands isn't as useful or powerful as just having reliable available mana each turn. Magmatic Insight and Molten Vortex have likely made these lands a bit better now too. They will all continue to see a bit of play as RDW is still one of the best decks however I am disinclined to include them in my drafting cube as they are both reasonably narrow and very marginal. I am already bloated on lands and think the slots are best served for the most part with dual lands. So, +1/+1 and firststrike, +2/+0, or something can't block? Teetering Peaks offers the most consistent free damage. Can't block is more situational but affords a lot more potential than the two damage from Peaks. It also scales better into the late game. Looming Spire is kind of bang in the middle, it offers some pump and some utility. The damage boost if used like Peaks is low from Spires but still above that of not being able to block. First strike gives you some nice options and can have some awkward effects on combat in your favour. This can be as good as can't block, perhaps better if you can Atarka's Command it out at instant speed! Usually I don't like cards that sit in the middle of highly comparable alternatives but in the case of these lands I think it is best, it means you can happily lay the land and get some value with much greater ease than with the other lands which in turn makes it a much more effective land in your deck. A good card, often better than a mountain in a mono red deck but not world changing enough to be a maincube card.

Mortuary Mire 5

Useful but narrow and as such it will likely only be used in constructed cube and never make the drafting cube. This is basically a one hit Volrath's Stronghold that is cheaper to do and isn't a dirty colourless land. The latter is pretty significant in black where it has a lot of all black casting cost spells all the way up the curve to 4. Black also finds itself in topdeck wars a lot, and has cards that interact with the top of library so having a bit of control over how much life you are about to lose isn't the worst. Black has lots of things like Grey Merchant of Asphodel which do exclusive things that it wants to use again making Mire a bit more interesting. Combo decks and more likely those with a bit of synergy for things like devotion may well be into this card.

Skyline Cascade 6

This one should creep into the drafting cube as its effect is so in line with basically every blue deck going. This should always save you at least two life, often more, and it will work on most things. You will be able to play it without harming you curve quite a lot of the time. It is also a great way to buy a little bit of time for a planeswalker. These days blue card advantage and trickery is just so good that it wins a lot of the time it gets to the late game. You do not have to cast many Cryptic Commands before things look good! This cheaply and conveniently helps you get to the late game. It is not that it is that much more powerful than the other lands in this cycle that it earns a higher rating, simply that it is more widely useful. Compared to Send to Sleep, a card that has impressed quite a lot, this land looks pretty reasonable. While you will usually only get 25% of the effect of Send to Sleep with a Skyline Cascade (you can get 50% of a Send to Sleep with it if you are able to make it in their turn somehow) the cost of the Cascade is significantly lower. Not only is it effectively half the mana (I assume you replaced an Island with the Cascade which therefore means you are effectively spending one blue mana to "cast" it) but it is also free in terms of cards. The simple way to show that this card is really good and well worth playing is by imagining a card that cost U, at sorcery speed, drew you a card and preventing a creature from untapping next turn. Would you play such a card? I think the answer to that is often.

Sandstone Bridge 4.5

Hard to call it the weakest but it is certainly the dullest. Vigilance is less immediately useful and a little more situational than first strike making it feel worse than the red one. White also not that into non-basics over Plains for things like Land Tax. White does have the least card advantage and quality of any colour but in decks that are in danger of flooding you are going to be getting so much more value from curving out than playing this. Fine but not really worth the effort.

Molten Nursery 2

This has combo written all over it. I shall cast my Ornithopter one million times! Outside of combo this card seems to be a little slow and reliant on having other things to do anything. An affinity deck usually has 20+ colourless spells, most of which are very cheap and this still doesn't feel like you want it. It is rather too much at the top end for affinity as well as a tempo setback. Some big artifact rampy red deck might also have near 20 colourless cards and consider this but it is likely too low impact there compared to something like a Mizzium Mortars.

Quarantine Field 2.5

Basically this has only one potential home, a deck with Serra's Sanctum and loads of enchantments and enchantment mana. Outside of such a list this card is not doing what you want it to in cube. Four mana to Oblivion Ring is weak, Ring is very much a backup plan as it is when you don't get the premium removal cards. Six mana to Ring two things is passable but not good by any means. The value is getting better by 3 things but at 8 mana you really are not looking at many instances of casting it for that at all. It isn't really in tune with how you want to use such cards. If you do hit two or three things with it you are actually at quite big risk. Imagine the end of turn Naturalize that gets them back a couple of scary threats. Oblivion Ring is risky enough and you are usually hitting more middling things as it is cheaper, and never multiples. If you want the top end of this card, play Planar Cleansing or some such card, if you want the spot removal play anything else, and if you are just being greedy and wanting both effecting in one card you are doing it wrong. Go rebuild your deck.

Retreat to Valakut 0

Wee, make all my lands Teetering Peaks or Smouldering Spires. Basically this doesn't do enough to merit a 3 mana do nothing alone card. How this is ever better than a 3 mana Phoenix that is able to force through 2 damage a turn all by itself without needing other creatures and lands to lay as well. I kind of like this card but it isn't the right way to go about winning games. If you could somehow have all your lands as sac lands this might start to look better but you can't even get half your lands as sac lands in cube with any ease.

Retreat to Hagra 0

Worst of the cycle most likely. A drain for one is passable but you want it on a card that does other things which this pretty much doesn't. You have to want the deathtouch to use the other ability as the drain is directly better in terms out tempo. Having deathtouch on one guy just for your attack has very little utility indeed. Bad card.

Retreat to Coralhelm 0.5

This could be the best of the cycle but again, it is too expensive for an incremental card that doesn't do enough on its own. I think I would just rather Thassa in my deck than this even if I had no hope of activating the devotion on her. That should demonstrate how unlikely it is this will ever see play.

Ugin's Insight 0

To expensive and sorcery for cube. A decent chunk of cards for the mana complete with a potentially huge scry. Powerful but not at all what we are looking for.

Wasteland Strangler 4?

I want this to be good. Black needs the love and this is one of the things that black wants. Sadly, it feels like Bone Shredder, Skin Render and Shriekmaw are all just better. When you want to kill something you don't want to piss around having to exile something. The niceness of this card is that it a 3 mana 3/2 that can kill something early. Needing to have exiled things means that is looking much more unlikely. All the merits of it being cheap and good value are lost if you can't un-exile something on request. We are not finished on the spoiler yet so there is a small amount of hope for ingest and other mechanics to make this viable but best case scenario is not looking like being above a 4/10 for the card. It doubly saddens me that a card that can kill an Aetherling while it is killing something else might not be good enough so I will try very hard for this card to work in cube.

Scatter to the Winds 5

Cancel with some lategame value is what we have here. Cancel is weak but not unplayable, it never has nor ever will see any cube play as there are so many slightly better incarnations on offer. Dissipate saw some cube play and Forbid has remained in the maincube forever despite not getting loads of play. Immediate minor effects like exile and scry are typically not enough to merit the extra cost over two mana countermagic options. Almost regardless of how good the 6 mana option on this card was it would still be a marginal card. Baseline it is Cancel which is not just weak in the cube but also weak compared to the many 2 and 3 mana alternatives that are not in the cube. I don't hate turning one of my lands into a 3/3 when I have at least six, but I don't love it either. It is not like I am always going to do it when I have six+ mana available. I can often see using it as Cancel still so I have mana left to represent other things. It is not like a 3/3 is going to dominate a board or anything once you are at that stage in the game. It is a decent two for one, a fatter, expensive mono coloured Mystic Snake style card. Not great but not bad. It has some decent interactions with mass removal effects that don't hit lands. It feels like a card that is better when you are ahead and worse when you are behind. All told however it is probably good enough to live in the main cube. Having a passable and useful cheap side combines well with having a two for one potent but expensive value side.

Scour from Existance 2

While not unplayable this card doesn't seem worth it as something you want to play. It has it all as far as removal goes, it is the most powerful and effective spot removal card in the game ignoring mana costs and with the possible exception of Council's Judgement. Any target, exiled, at instant speed and through any coloured protection Mother of Runes nonesense. Thing is, for seven mana you could have Karn. You have to really really want instant speed to forgo all that extra power and value. I am actually going to trial this card out, it is the ultimate playable safety card even if you can only play it in control and ramp decks. Perhaps people will pick it up in draft and then realise it is their only out to something and end up boarding it in loads. It really isn't good or powerful, I am aware of this. I just can't get over how useful it is. Black can kill enchantments, green can kill creatures, everyone can kill gods. Even when you board it in against one specific thing that wreaks your deck you can still use it on anything you might need to. It kills man lands too!

Blighted Cataract 1.5

I love this card and I love how there are so many good lands in this set that are like the WoW TCG quests. They will improve the game a great deal. Sadly this card doesn't compete well in the cube and is unlikely to see much, if any play. Too few decks will want to take the colourless hit for something that is only going to be relevant in the super late game. Being blue makes the card overly narrow as well, it is the colour that least needs the extra cards. Green might have quite liked a land it could cash in for two cards. Most playable in artifact based decks which can run out of gas with lots of mana up and which need coloured mana least.

Beastcaller Savant 6

I like it, took me a while to get there but I think this is enough for cube. It is the card you play when you want to play something like Sylvan Caryatid but you are an aggro deck not a control ones. Cards that only tap for mana for use on creatures are things I am normally a little wary of but this seems cheap and rounded enough to get away with it. It is your backup Lotus Cobra. So why do I like this low power critter? Basically it just does a lot of things you want for a not unreasonable price. As it gives mana on the turn you make it you are able to curve with it such that it only costs you one mana. The fixing potential is nice with so much gold power on offer in the cube. What I like most about this card is the utility of haste in an agrro deck. Obviously this is only playable in a deck which is at least 40% creatures and of these, the majority will be aggro decks. A 2 mana 1/1 haste is not an exciting threat but it gives you options your opponent won't often account for. Being able to bond it with a Wolfir Silverheart for example, perhaps just assisting a Kytheon flip. Beastcaller Savant is much more useful of the top mid to late game than a Llanowar Elf. Savant is narrower due to being aggro focused and only ramping and fixing for creature cards but I feel it has what it takes to perform well in cube. It is a bit like a Coiling Oracle, a bit like an Honoured Hierarch and a bit like something more naff such as Rattleclaw Mystic.

Complete Disregard 5

This is pretty turgid. Three mana removal that can't hit all the targets is not what we like. Instant and exile make up for this a bit. It is not because the spell itself is any good that I rate this reasonably highly but more the fact black has little else playable in terms of removal that exiles. Black struggles against decks dropping down Kitchen Finks and Voice of Resurgence and this helps it out a lot. I don't want this in my cube but I fear it may see play and be quite helpful. It is a bit like Scour from Existance in its appeal but less extreme.

Culling Drone 1

Grizly Bear with devoid and ingest. Not exciting at all but a viable support card for a mechanism themed deck. A lot of seriously powerful stuff would need printing for this to be close to worth it presently but not a card I can rule out having its uses.

Bethnic Infiltrator 0.5

As above but more so, 3 mana 1/4, even unblocakble ones, are dodgy.

Muck Strider and Mindraker 0

These are not the kind of cards that will make ingest playable in cube. They are not really much more exciting than similar versions without prerequisites on the abilities.

Drana, Liberator of Malakir 7

This is the black Brimaz. A solid, stand alone 3 drop dork that offers some ongoing advantages. Cards that can be taken out easily with a single removal spell that offer no immediate card advantage or persistence effects have to be really really good to make the cube. Drana is comfortably good enough for me. A 2/3 flying first strike is comparable to Vampire Nighthawk, the original stand alone good dork (that title probably goes to Goyf in reality but still...). Her Slith mechanism is what pushes her from fine to terrifying. She will be fairly easy to connect with and as such she will grow herself and all you other attackers. This is far more aggressive than Brimaz but also more powerful and game ending. Her first strike means that the +1/+1 counters go on your normal hitting dudes before they deal and receive damage which is rather brutal. Drana is a card that is important to kill quickly and she is only 3 mana. Just growing herself is good, growing much else will be pretty game ending.

Part the Waterveil 5

Time walk effects are a bit like card draw effects, it seems no matter how bad you make them they still feel playable. Six to Time Walk is pricey but just about acceptable. Nine to do anything is pretty narrow but well within the realms of the possible, especially for the kinds of decks that like to take extra turns. For that extra three mana you get a substantial 6/6 land. If you are billy all the mana and have some spare after Parting the Waterveil then you will get to swing for 12 with this card as part of the not at all insignificant extra turn. This card goes from playable to game ending in just three mana! It has sufficient power for the cube but having what makes it spicy costing nine mana it seems like it won't get enough play.

Snapping Gnarlid and Makindi Slide Runner 0

Back in the day, yes. Now, no. Close, very close but the problem with cards that are simply just fat is that when they are not quite there they simply have no chance of getting play.

Sire of Stagnation 0

Eeew, this is a very bad Consecrated Sphinx indeed. Two colours, loss of flying and a trigger you opponent can and will chose to bypass. This is close to Craw Wurm, very very close to an Alpha common creature.

Emeria Shepherd 0.5

Good effect but on a vulnerable and highly over costed creature with low stats. Sun Titan is one of the weakest Titans and it still is wildly better than this overall. Emeria Shepherd can at least reanimate huge things but that seems like a lot of fuss to go to. Raya Dawnbringer has this beat too and is another card that is pretty close to unplayable.

Blighted Woodland 3.5

This is a powerful card that competes with Myriad Landscape and Krosan Verge. Sadly I think Woodland bests neither of these cards for cube use. All three of these lands tap for colourless, all three sac to find two lands which in turn ramps, gives card advantage and potentially fixes. Verge is the narrowest but potentially the most powerful as it can find non basic lands. Myriad Landscape is the broadest in use as any colour can take advantage. Blighted Woodland's only real advantage over the others is that it comes into play untapped. This is nice but not the most exciting on a land that taps for colourless. Woodland also lets you get two different basic lands which is better and broader fixing. Sadly it costs a green and three colourless to do this making it nearly twice the cost of the other two to put to use. Overall I think the penalty for playing lands like this is the fact they offer no coloured mana themselves while the perk is the sac ability. Coming into play untapped does not feel like it does much to offset the much pricier activation.

Blighted Steppe 1

White seems to always get ripped off when it comes to land cycles. Nomad Outpost still sticks out in my mind as one of the worst cards ever (although saying that I think it saw some competitive play). This is very situational, rather expensive and not really what you want to be doing with your lands. Control decks won't often have enough creatures, nor will they want to bin lands until the super late game. Aggro decks don't give a monkeys about lifegain and so no where is going to take the hit on a colourless land for this effect. I still gave it a 1 because it is a spell land that has some scaling and is so much better than Nomad Outpost that it will probably see play somewhere some day!

Blighted Fen 5.5

Here we have a much more reasonable and playable spell land effect. Already this is one of the best cards in the game at dealing with a Lumbering Falls. My assumption is that any black deck that can afford the colourless land will play this. In aggro decks it is a free late game removal spell. In midrange it is a significant effect that will be usable more quickly and frequently. For control having mana up and being able to represent a Diabolic Edict with other cards in hand will be very uncomfortable to play against. Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth will greatly help with the viability of this card however black is the most black mana intense colour. There are also good colourless land options for black decks including Rishadan Port, Wastelands, Volrath's Stronghold, Mutavault and Myriad Landscape. It also has Lake of the Dead which is a consideration. While very playable I suspect it will be edged out of decklists more often than not for more powerful lands or simply a more consistent colour base. It is at least very splashable and so I expect to see it almost as much in decks that has few or no black cards as I do in properly black decks. Having this as an option in a green ramp deck would be rather nice.

Blighted Gorge 4.5

Another very playable land that is lower power than the Fen but that offers broader utility. This is no Barbarian Ring however, it is too expensive and likely too damaging on your early game to make much of an impact in red deck wins style decks. It also seems too minor to be of much use in control or midrange. A nice option to have but one I expect will barely ever be used.

Swell of Growth 4

I am not quite sure what to make of this card. Ramp and pump are not a thing you often do in tandem. This card also offers no card advantage or even parity unless you take out creatures in combat with it. If Skullcrack is one parent of Atarka's Command then this is the other parent! Sadly it is the harder bits to take full use of. The best thing about this card is the instant speed land lay which can be very naughty with things like Wolfrun or any of the various one off pump lands (Teetering Peaks etc). It is also a very good card to pair with landfall effects. A narrow and situational card that offers some exclusive utility and some decent potential value. While I like this card I don't think Mutagenic Growth, Atarka's Command or Explore have anything to worry about. It simply seems too narrow for the cube.

Seek the Wilds 6

OK, both Impulse and Grisly Salvage make this card look pretty weak. Both are instant and either see more cards or offer more selection options. Salvage also has some graveyard utility. The thing is that with card quality you are just looking for reliable and playable which Seek the Wilds is on both accounts. Salvage is gold and can be dangerous if you need certain cards not to get put in the bin. Impulse is blue, a place where you are spoiled rotten for card quality. Green has a reasonable offering of card quality however none of them are close to as consistent or broad as this. You can build decks where this is impossible to miss with and even if you don't think about it at all you should still almost never miss with this. Cards like Mulch or Gather the pack are much more likely to do nothing and are narrower in what they can do for you. Sylvan Library is better but it is a different card that has different applications and uses to the one shot immediate card quality effects. It is like Comparing Serum Visions to Divining Top. Seek the Wilds will help you in floods and screws, it will be just as good on turn ten as it was on turn two and in green the sorcery speed of it is a whole lot less relevant than it would be in the other colours. Basically this is the green Impulse, it is arguably better as it is so comparable to Impulse yet has none of the competition from other great and reliable card quality effects in blue. Gather the Pack and Mulch offer a far bigger potential upside than Seek will ever offer however this is not the main reason you play these kinds of cards, you play them to increase your consistency which Seek is best for.

Natural Connection 3

Safer than Harrow but with none of the abusive ramping utility. I could see some variants of Simic control liking this card but mostly it is just weak ramp, you pay quite a lot for the instant and it isn't that useful very often.

Jaddi Offshoot 1.5

Pretty mean against burn decks! Too weak against other archetypes to be a consideration for cube, and I don't like hate cards. Despite that I think this is a cute card, it does quite a lot for the mana and may have some viable role in some super obscure deck. I mean, it makes a Fastbond free to use....

Blisterpod / Brood Monitor / Call the Scions / Eyeless Watcher 2

I like all of these cards for similar reasons however none seem like they do enough for cube. The Pod and the Monitor offer the best value for mana on the effects but the Pod is too low power and situational to be much use while the Monitor is too high up on the curve to be very interesting. The others have more potential uses but are very low value for the mana. I like the idea of Recurring Nightmare and Eyeless Watcher or Call the Scions with Goblin Electormancer but I am pretty sure there are just better things you can do in those reasonably narrow situations. The scion tokens are very useful things that effect almost every area of the game and I want to see them used in cube. These cards, while close, are not how we will see most of the scions come from in cube.

Earthen Arms 2.5

Another exclusive card with some interesting applications. It is a little low impact early as well as being rather situational to see much play but being a unique effect I am not about to go ruling it out. Lumbering Falls is already a fantastic threat and cards like this will allow it to perform better in that role.

Vile Aggregate 3

Narrow as they come but surprisingly high power for a card like this. Any deck that makes colourless tokens, even a more standard affinity deck could put this to work. It is a bit of a do nothing else threat but it is a cheap scaling one at least.

Touch of the Void 2

A new take on Ghostfire that trades instant speed for an exile effect. Three for 3 is a bit steep, especially on a sorcery. I think Exquisite Firecraft just offers better value and utility than this will do. Devoid is fairly minor with very few hate cards in my cube and not even that many random good dorks with pro red other than Master of Waves. The exile is significant however you can get this on much more cost effective burn spells. This is a fine card but it isn't enough for the cube.

Sure Strike 4

This is an impressively good combat trick, it gives great odds on you taking out whatever your dork is in combat with as well as having yours live to tell the tale. I am just imagining this compared against a card like Searing Spear. While Sure Strike is no way near as reliable as your Searing Spears it does have a lot more potential to gain you value or card advantage. It won't be that hard to use this to go to the face and it will allow you to comfortably carry on attacking into things like Siege Rhino without fear of falling even further behind. I only give it a 4 because I am not sure red has the luxury of combat tricks yet. Brute Force and Titan's Strength never last long in the cube despite seeming very good value.

Lavastep Raider 2

Playable and reasonably safe. It also scales much better into the late game than most of your one drop aggro dorks. Sadly this isn't doing much more than nibble for one in the early game which pretty much rules it out for cube. There was a time not so long ago this might have crept in but now post Tarkir red is pretty sorted for one drops.

Vampiric Rites 6

This is Evolutionary Leap but in black. It has some strengths over Leap and some weaker aspects to it as well but overall it is a very similar card. Powerwise it is a little weaker however it more than makes up for this by having slightly broader application and fitting in a more appropriate colour. Both Leap and Rites offer card advantage, card quality and some bonus sacrifice utility in a cheap and useful form. They are not cards that blow the game out of the water right away and are a little less enticing to include in lists that a juicy threat or action card. That said, these cards will give you so much ongoing value and utility that it is hard to lose the long games with them out. The main drawback on Rites is that it is two to activate making it a lot harder to have mana up to use it consistently. An initial casting cost of one does not come close to making up for the higher activation cost. Beyond that it is all pretty juicy. Protection for your team against removal, the ability to fizzle spells and combat damage triggers, turn your cheap low impact dorks and tokens into better things, a bit of incidental life to sweeten the deal! This card makes Bitterblossom quite significantly better and is great news for Ophiomancer, Liliana the Heretical Healer, Bloodghast and so on.

Drawing a card rather than specifically a creature card is also much more useful even if it is going to be lower power. Rites lets you dig for lands or dig for a removal spell. The diminishing returns on drawing a card barely ever kick in before the game is over some other way yet I have already had a couple of games where I pulled all the creatures out of my deck with a Leap. I like this card a lot, it is a great tool for black but it is pretty fair and slow to impact a game. Leap is very good but it is still tending to only see play where it offers some additional synergies with other cards desiring the sacrifice mechanic. I somewhat expect this to follow a similar path.

Sludge Crawler 1

It looks so good, I read it, I decide it does too little and move on. Then I glance at it again later and have to read it thoroughly another time because I can't believe a one mana card with this much text isn't a bomb. Not the worst of the ingest cards at all but still I find no real use for them in the cube.

Grip of Desolation 4

Gah! So many expensive cards that are temping me with their exile capabilities. This is one of the better ones in terms of power and usefulness however as six mana removal spell I am not sure that it would see much play at all. It does all of what you want, instant, exile, gets round protection from black, offers card advantage and has some synergy with cards like Smallpox. I don't think control decks can afford to play solution cards where their real power cards sit on the curve, you will either end up unable to win or unable to cast things before it is too late.

Grave Birthing 1

I like this, it does quite a lot and it cool. Sadly at three mana this really isn't making it in the cube.

Carrier Thrall 6

I think this is just about good enough. It is no Viridian Emissary in terms of raw power but it does offer a lot more utility. It is also in a colour much more capable of sacrificing its creatures as well as a colour that is really quite lacking in 1B generic two drops you can play comfortably in most decks. This is an annoying body that gives you a persistent board presence. It has great synergy with Vampiric Rites and Recurring Nightmare. It can apply some pressure or absorb some. It can do some ramping too! It is not the 1B 2/1 Phyrexian Rager I have wanted for so long but it fills a very similar role and I expect to see this getting a lot of play despite being reasonably low power. It is the black Coiling Oracle, Satyr Wayfinder or Jeskai Sage.

Tide Drifter 1.5

A big old wall for the mana complete with a bonus global toughness pump for your colourless things. Most of the viable cube decks that make a lot of colourless dorks don't want a 0 power creature and there are not many of those decks either. As such this is narrow and undesirable for cube but it is also rather a lot of card for the mana that does some interesting and useful stuff so it shouldn't be entirely ruled out.

Ruination Guide 1

Given what I said about Tide Drifter this should be much more playable. Thing is at 3 mana you can have really powerful standalone cards or much better synergy cards. Master of Etherium? True Name Nemesis. This card is a no thank you.

Roilmage's Trick 5

This is pretty good at doing what you want a lot of the time in cube. It is the big daddy of Send to Sleep, four mana would be too pricey but as it cycles and applies to all creatures it scales sufficiently well to be viable. The fact that it seems so inferior to Cryptic Command does make me not want this in a cube however Cryptic Command has proven that a 4 mana cycling Fog in blue is impressively handy. I think the fact that you want to be in 3 colours before you play this makes it too narrow for cube but it is still a deceptively playable card.

Halimar Tidecaller 5

Narrow but powerful. This is a better body than Eternal Witness, that is easier to cast and has some ongoing in play effects as well. You need a fair few awaken cards before this is a consideration and I don't think they printed quite enough viable ones for this to be a cube card yet. You would ideally want four or five awaken cards in your deck and I doubt there will even be that many in the cube. If you played all the best awaken cards then your deck would look like a weak standard Esper deck. Certainly a card to watch but too narrow for now. The main thing this has going for it in terms of getting some cube play is how good it is with Lumbering Falls in making it a much more dangerous threat.

Eldrazi Skyspawner 1

Love it but really this is never going to see play in any sort of normal deck. Value filler cards like this really need to cost 2 for them to stand much chance in the cube.

Clutch of Currents 3

I found another playable awaken card! Sorcery speed bounce has never excited much and overall I think I would just rather have flashback on the card than awaken. Despite being a non-tricksy limited bounce card this is still a lot more cube worthy than most magic cards.

Unified Front 2

Narrow as hell and only at all exciting if you have ally synergy. That said, this card is brutal if you get it off for 3 or 4 and you have any sort of exciting allies in play. I expect this to be the centrepiece of any constructed standard ally deck.

Top 10 cards from BfZ

1.   Shambling Vent
2.   Lumbering Falls
3.   the Basic Duals
4.   Drana, Liberator of Malakir
5.   Ob Nixilus Reignited
6.   Catacomb Sifter
7.   Skyline Cascade
8.   Carrier Thrall
9.   Vampiric Rites
10. Seek the Wilds

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