Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Archetype Breakdown: Reanimate and other Cheat in big stuff stuff!

So, there are a lot of ways to cheat expensive things into play. Lots of expensive things that are nice to cheat in and lots of ways to do that in four of the five colours. This archetype breakdown is a little different as you can wind up in basically any combination of colours. White is the least common and when it is played it is usually a splash. Most typically white inclusions are not intended for casting conventionally! There are a couple of broad archetypes that are not fixed to one specific colour or groups of colours. Affinity and storm can both operate well and do builds that share no coloured cards, indeed storm can do multiple builds that share no cards at all! This archetype is one such archetype that is super broad. If you lump all the cheat-stuff-out decks into a big group then it is easily one of the most diverse. Most builds contain black or blue as they have the best tutor and dig effects to ensure you pull off your shenanigans. That said, I have seen Gruul incarnations!

Combo decks in cube always suffer compared to constructed versions of the decks to consistency issues. When you need weird specific things and have 1/40 compared to 4/60 your odds are lower and you rely much more on poorer cards that do similar things. The cheaty fat man decks can avoid this issue but it isn't super easy. There are some small groups of good cheat in cards that work very similarly but most operate quite differently and work better with specific threats and support cards. If you are able to use a selection of the cards that cheat things in with a range of threats that have a sufficient overlap with each other and the support you need to use then you can make a combo deck that is considerably more consistent than any thing else with a combo bent possible in singleton.

Demonic Tutor
Rating the individual cards is a little odd in this breakdown. The reason being that once you are in a specific direction, or even a couple, you basically have to pick the key things when you see them. With combo you are always at the mercy of seeing several things you need in the same pack (or being hate drafted in other formats). You have to pick the things other people might need and hope the other thing you also need tables. Typically you don't get many choices when drafting this sort of thing, not once you have some direction at least. Some packs won't have anything useful at all. Some packs will only have perhaps playables, odd bits of filler or potentially useful lands. When you see a good enabler, a good support card or a good threat for your directions you just take it.

In terms of deck makeup the ratios will vary rather a lot depending on what kind of cheaty fat man deck you are building. What colours it is in and what restrictions you might have imposed on the build. The main thing is having between 3 and 6 fat things to cheat in. Usually I want four, that seems to be the most commonly appropriate number. Some of the cheat effects like more big things, typically the one shot hit effects unsurprisingly. You can also afford less when you have the real premium ones along with the best support. When you are reliably finding one and winning with it when you just have three then you don't overly need a 4th. You play all the enablers. If you are playing the Reanimate theme it is highly unlikely indeed that you won't also play Exhume and Animate Dead if you have them. There simply are not enough good ones of any given kind to ever be in a position to have too many. Six would be a great number of such things, often you will be relying on a mere three. You may actually see more than six however you probably won't be able to usefully play all of them as they will require different threats and support to the others. If you took six random cheat in cards from this list you would likely need about 12 fatties to support all of them well enough. The support tools would also become very stretched. The best way to phrase it overall is that you want as many enablers as you can play that will work with 3-6 threats. On average I would say these kinds of deck wind up with about four super top end threats and about four cheat enablers. Assuming a standard 16 ish lands that gives a whopping 16 spaces left for support cards, disruption and filler. These will be a lot of card quality spells and tutors. Perhaps some cheap ramp and fixing effects too. A number of the cheaty effects work from the bin and so those archetypes need to have some quite specific support for that. A lot of discard outlets double up as card quality or something else but you would want at least 4, likely closer to 6 in your list if you are relying on it to enable your stuff.

Through the Breach
Due to how you have to synergize your cards with high priority in these lists a rating is a little less valuable than with the more redundant archetypes. You could literally just take the 24 or so highest rated spells according to my archetype breakdown for them and put them with the best land and have a great deck. For this breakdown however you will not be able to do that at all. Once you have a direction or two you have to pick exclusively cards that work with them. The rating I give the cards is much more an indication of how powerful that card is and far less so than usual as an indication of how playable it is. I am afraid you will have to work out how playable the cards are based on context to be able to build these decks well! Hopefully my example lists at the end should be helpful in showing the sorts of things you can line up well.

The Cheat Effects

ReanimateThe Reanimators

Reanimate 7
Exhume 8
Animate Dead 7
Dance of the Dead 6.5
Life / Death 5

Dance of the DeadThese cards I group together. There are others like this although they are generally a lot slower and as such a lot worse. Dance of the Dead is weakest with its potential upkeep cost but being able to play a dork for two or less is a big deal when it is the right dork! These cards are all the same group because they all share the exact same list of threat and support cards that make them good. This is the most redundant group by a long way and as such you can build almost entirely to "Reanimate" without dipping into other themes. Despite being one of the quicker combos it is a little less reliable as it typically gives a turns response time for your opponent before things get too out of hand. It is also one where some of the cards, Reanimate and Death most notably, suffer rather if you play them together due to heavy life loss potential. These cards all want creatures that can sit in the graveyard and as such they also very much want things that can put such cards into the graveyard. When going Reanimate direction your discard outlets become basically as important as your threats and Reanimate effects, you need all three to do anything. The only thing that might trump one such card is a good tutor. Other than dorks that stay in the yard once put there  (which does exclude some of the most oppressively powerful ones) you are not looking for anything too specific with your threats. Those that are most likely to win the game are the best! Those include ones with powerful EtB effects, powerful ongoing effects, ones that dominate the board and ones that are really hard to deal with. Increasingly with the power of cube creatures and the speed of aggro decks it is really handy having threats that are hard to attack into.

Shallow GraveThe Unearthers

Corpse Dance 7.5
Shallow Grave 8.5

This is a smaller group of cards alike to the Reanimate group but far more deadly. While only offering one hit with a card these things can hit cards that don't typically stick around in graveyards. Although the thing you return to play only stays for one turn you do get to hit with them right away. The extra speed combined with the far greater range of power threats you can work them with makes these cards pretty lethal if you can get the right bits for them. That means you need threats so powerful that a single hit is game ending or unrecoverable. That or an EtB effect offers so much value you can win off the back of that rather than the impact of the attack. If you are using things like the Eldrazi that don't stay in the yard then you need discard outlets that are cheap or free so that you can use it and the Shallow Grave or whatever at the same time.

Goryo's VengeanceGoryo's Vengence 6

This is just another card that does the exact same things as Corpse Dance and Shallow Grave but with an additional proviso. Fortunately most of the optimal Shallow Grave cards are also legends as so this typically fits into the same lists. The slight issue is that you are usually also running a bit of a Reanimate backup and while Corpse Dance and Co. work fine with all the various reanimate cards fairly well the Vengeance has rather less overlap. You can afford to have the odd card, or far end of your range, under catered for. You can get away with just one or two good targets for your Vengeance if your other stuff is abundant enough and more properly supported.

Show and Tell
Show and Tell 6

This works with everything which is pretty nice. You can always just throw in a Show and Tell to whatever other cheat cards you are playing and it will go with them fine. The issue with Show and Tell is not with its range but with its risk. Either you are behind enough when you can play it that giving them a free thing, even it is just a 3 or 4 drop, might be too much to recover from. That, or they also have some big stuff and are able to counter yours and win with theirs or just counter yours with theirs. Show and Tell is decent with the really game breaking cards but if you are only putting in good top end stuff it is a lot less worthwhile. When playing with it you will typically go for another line of play if it open too you because the risk of Show and Tell is so great. Much better with effects that let you see your opponents hand for obvious reasons!

Flash 2

This isn't in most cubes as the best uses for it are incredibly niche. That said, you can abuse this with a select few threats on this list for some very cheap value. EtB and upon death trigger dorks work with this and it is a way to get a creature from hand into bin. A pair of 2/2 zombies for two mana and two cards isn't a great deal but if you get to Shallow Grave the Grave Titan in off the back of it then it sounds like a huge win! Mostly you want to play this with Worldspine Wurm for three 5/5 tramplers at instant speed. Nothing really comes close to that for potency but if you can set it up it is worth it. Protean Hulk lists don't work nearly so well in cube as they do in constructed as you typically draw some of the things you needed to find with the Hulk for the win.

TinkerTinker 9

One of the more feared and hated cards on this list in cubes. Tinker is super strong because it is both a tutor and a cheat spell all in one. You don't need stuff in hand or stuff in bin, just any old artifact in play and you are good to go with Tinker. A little narrower on the list of threats that work with it as they need to be artifacts. Mostly you just want the creatures still despite being able to get any kind of artifact. The artifact creatures are the best threats you can find with Tinker. The only other things I ever see it get are Gilded Lotus or a combo piece which is not something you want to do in the cheat in kinds of deck. Tinker needs support beyond having a couple of good targets to fetch with it. You need lots of cheap, ideally 2CMC or less artifacts to ditch to the Tinker. Something like a Chromatic Star is pretty ideal for the task. You want at least 6 such things and more just makes your Tinker more consistent. Further to this it is nice to have some cards that can reshuffle things from hand back into your library. It is not at all uncommon to have drawn the one thing you need to Tinker up!

Shelldock IsleShelldock Isle 10

I have recently banned this from the midrange cube (it is the opposite of a cut but ultimately the same effect of being removed from the cube! I now consider it an honorary piece of power along with Tolarian Academy, Mana Drain and the like), it was good in every deck and oppressively good in this archetype specifically. With 3-6 huge things in your deck you have good odds of putting one under the Isle. With loads of card quality effects you have pretty good odds of setting up your Isle to hideaway a specific thing. These cheap cycling and card quality cards ensure you plow through your library pretty quick and turn on the Shelldock. It was hard to stop, quick to come online and brutally effective. Often it outperformed the main purpose of the deck. Some random Show and Tell thing with and Emrakul is OK but casting that Emrakul for two mana at instant speed is a whole lot more powerful and substantially lower risk. Shelldock basically worked in every kind of cheat deck. Whenever you have good things to flop in and the ability to move through your deck fast you can't go far wrong with it. Often worth splashing for. Ultimately it was the fact that this has no restrictions on what it works with well that made it too good. This is the best cheat in card on this list for cube. Oath of Druids and Tinker may get more notoriety but Shelldock is the real big name in cube. It is the combination with the on cast effects of the Eldrazi which make Shelldock so abusive when compared to the rest on offer.

Sneak AttackThe Sneakers

Sneak Attack 9
Through the Breach 4

These are like the Shallow Grave effect cards except they work from hand rather than from the graveyard. As such they are priced up accordingly. Sneak Attack is one of the slowest cheat in cards that is still really quite potent. It gives little ability to disrupt, no sneak peek previews as to what it is about to be inserted in your face and basically no response time. It is often the case of counter it or win before they can use it. I no longer run Through the Breach in my cube. Being such a one off you basically need to win with it when you use it and this massively reduces the number of threats that are good with it compared to Sneak Attack. It is good when you catch them with their pants down and one shot them with a Blightsteel. It is super awkward when you just hit them for 15 and blow you load only to have to sit there limply watching them kill you while comfortably sat on 5 life. The cards that are best with Sneak attack are those with super high value EtB triggers, upon death triggers, when they attack triggers, one shot kill potential or other easily usable and super high power activated abilities. Most Sneak decks expect to Sneak in two creatures for the win while many of the other cheat in decks will be more capable of winning with a single fatty.

Goblin WelderThe Welders

Daretti, Scrap Savant 8
Goblin Welder 8.5

These are reds other cheat effect options. Other than being red these do not have especially great overlap with Sneak Attack style effects. There are certainly cards that work fine with both and it can be done but you will either have stuff that does nothing with one half of your engines or you will have a pretty underwhelming Sneak Attack compared to what it can do. These cards are some of the most demanding in terms of support required. You need discard effects like you do for Reanimate and the like. You also need cheap disposable artifacts to exchange with as you do with Tinker. Lastly you need your threats to be artifacts so that you can bring them back. These artifacts also need to be able to stay in the graveyard when put there else it is hard/impossible to bring them into play. This means some of the cards that are great for Tinker are not even great for these. Both these cards are also on permanents which make them a little more vulnerable to disruption. Ideally you have a little in the way of things to protect your goblins so you can actually use them given all the effort needed to have them work. Once online these cards are pretty oppressive. Unlike almost all the other cheat in cards on this list these are efficient enough that it is plenty good enough just swapping around filler and midrange utility stuff for value. Drawing cards with Terarion, applying some lock down with Tangle Wire and so forth will win plenty of games. You don't need to make another Myr Battlesphere/Wurmcoil Engine each turn to have these be good, although that is certainly something they can do. Welder is more vulnerable but incredibly quick. Daretti is a little safer, he isn't gimped with summoning sickness and he can also act as his own support with the significant looting ability. When you are playing either of these cards you probably want both. Just playing Daretti as a discard outlet is pretty weak.

Oath of DruidsOath of Druids 7.5

This is one of the harder cards to build with as it prevents you from playing any creatures other than the fatties you want to cheat in. For a green player this is hard. In most cubes green is about three quarters creatures! Oath of Druid decks are typically quite light on the green so that you can have enough playable non-creature cards! Oath does lead to some interesting interplay as you can force them into killing their own guys or not playing any. This is usually bad for you as it just means your opponent has turned off your combo. A lot of decks can't win without making dorks and so Oath is rather oppressive against them. Oath puts anything into play. You don't get the cast triggers from Eldrazi but you still get the bodies. Oath is highly flexible in what you can use it with threat wise. Oath is easily one of the easiest card to setup so to speak. You don't need to put cards in the bin or have them in hand, you just get one free in your upkeep. Perhaps the next one too! There are some specific cards that give your opponents creatures which allow you to forcefully active your Oath. These cards are quite narrow and are uncommon in cubes but well worth playing if you can grab them. Forbidden Orchard, Swan Song and Beast Within are the main activators for Oath. Oath also quite likes reshuffle effects so it can still Oath up creatures it draws. In the case of the original Eldrazi discard effects work too. Indeed they are doubly nice as the whole graveyard reshuffle ensures you won't deck yourself with the Oath.

Natural OrderNatural Order 4.5

The green Tinker! This is a mana more to use than Tinker but is much the same effect of sacrificing a type of card and replacing it with one you choose from your deck that is hopefully a substantial degree more powerful and expensive. The extra cost is not what makes Natural Order that much less exciting than Tinker. It is the combination of two reasonably small things that make it one of the least powerful cheat cards on this list. The first is that green is vulnerable to disruption. Killing off lots of small dorks is quite easy compared to killing off small artifacts. Countering a Natural Order is much more brutal than it is for a Tinker and much more likely too. Blue can recover from suffering card disadvantage hits better than green. Tinker is a fairly risky card and while Natural Order looks like it should have a comparable risk the reality, mostly as a result of the colour pie, is that Order is substantially more risk. The other factor with Natural Order is that when you have enough cheap green creatures in your deck to enable it you probably just have enough mana to cast the things you would want to Order up! Natural Order is limited to green dorks and so the only thing you might want to find with it than you can't hope to cast is Progenitus. Other than Worldspine Wurm all the best green targets fall in the pretty playable 7 CMC area. Natural Order is a fairly awkward fit into a lot of the cheat in decks. It is basically unplayable with Oath of Druids. It better suits green ramp decks and I find I prefer the consistency of just playing more ramp and more threats in those.


Eureka 5

The green Show and Tell! This one can do planeswalkers and this one lets you dump everything down. As such it is far more effective and far less risky than Show and Tell assuming you have accumulated several substantial things you should be able to dodge any answers they might have and significantly overpower whatever they might have in play after it all. Best with lots of threats, lots of permanents and lots of draw! Like Show and Tell this works with all the dorks so it is nice in that it doesn't restrict you. You do want to ensure you dump at least two big things out with it however and so it will put some build constraints on your list should you wish to use it.

Aetherworks MarvelAetherworks Marvel 0!

This is the only cheat in card printed in a really long time. The last one was Shelldock Isle and it doesn't really count. Before that it was in Kamigawa block and then we are talking outside of Modern. Hmm, I guess Birthing Pod counts, guess we will add that to the list. So Marvel works with everything and casts them so works doubly well with our big Eldrazi friends. The reason Marvel is not really a thing in cube is that it needs too much specific support. In most cubes you will really struggle to activate your Marvel even if you pick every card you see that can help do it. to have a chance of using it the turn you make it you really need to have stockpiled some energy. A couple of cube worthy cards have some incidental energy but you don't really want them in your combo deck. Without energy producers you need to sacrifice six things once you resolve your Marvel. Far far far too much effort or narrow support needed. Quite fun but not so much a cube thing.

Birthing Pod
Birthing Pod n/a

So this isn't really a cheat in card as it only ever lets you plus one on the CMC of a thing. There are some abuses of this with alternate casting cost things, Vine Dryad, Tasigur, Myr Enforcer! This is far too narrow however. Not only do you need the pod and the dork and the things to make that dork cheaper compared to their CMC but you also need a target with the exact CMC +1 of the thing you ditch. All way too much work and inconsistent to be used in that way. Pod is great for helping assemble creature based combos or to generate value with tutoring, EtB and upon death triggers in a more midrange style of deck. I have never sucessfully used it in part of a cheat in style combo deck.

ChannelChannel 2

Super quick compared to many of the other options. You can easily make turn one or two Eldrazi with Channel in an unpowered cube. The issue with Channel is subtle and the result of a couple things combined. The first is that you can only sensibly use Channel to play colourless cards limiting you to Eldrazi, Colossus and potentially some of the 6 and 7 mana artifact dorks. The second is paying a total boat load of life to do so. Channel plus Emrakul is usually a win however if you are on less than 16 is isn't possible. Lets say you needed to Vampiric Tutor up one of the parts and lets say you needed a sec land to find your Bayou. This means a Shock, will be lethal. It can be a risky thing to do even when you are quick of the mark and it quickly ceases to be viable as the game goes on. None of the dorks you can sensibly use with Channel return you a bunch of life or suitably protect you to make it consistent or safe enough to be a good strategy. Super inconsistent, high risk, narrow window of utility and for my money, one of the worst cheat in effects on offer.

Recurring NightmareRecurring Nightmare 8

Recurring Nightmare is a very slow and pretty weak Reanimate effect. It is at least a mana more than the other good ones and also requires you to have a creature in play to use. In a lot of the more speed driven combo lists this wont get a look in. The strength of Nightmare is the potential value and inevitability of it. Being able to use it over and over again will ensure victory. As the cube has become more midrange there has been a bit of a shift away from raw speed in the cheat in big stuff decks. There are actually a fair number of ways to build reanimate style decks that are more controlling and slower which are arguably some of the best presently. Many of those have a decent number of supporting dorks, things like Birds of Paradise, Looter il-Kor, Baleful Strix etc. When you have enough of the cheap dorks Recurring Nightmare becomes pretty insane. It is a threat in its own right and it is a combo piece but also just a very good card.

Living DeathLiving Death 6.5

I mostly play this as an answer card with some nice utility rather than a recursion effect. The only time I think I play it for the recursion alone is when I am playing a Patriarch's Bidding deck and want some redundancy. That means tribal zombies or goblins. In a reanimate deck I will often play a Living Death simply as a Wrath of God that has a free part of my combo bolted onto it. You can often be removal light in reanimate decks and so a Wrath has a lot of value. Particularly when it isn't adding a non-combo card to the list. Generally they won't get any thing much back with it and even if they do the nature of your deck should ensure your gains a far more substantial. A really useful tool for these kinds of decks to have but not a build around card presently in cube.

Scrap Mastery

Scrap Mastery 1.5

The Living Death of artifacts! Despite the effectiveness of Living Death I have never managed to get this working very effectively. Firstly you are rarely up against an artifact heavy deck so the removal side of things doesn't help you. Indeed, you generally being a Welder style of artifact deck means you have loads of support and mana artifacts in play ensuring the Mastery dose hurt you. While this card can be OK, getting a few threats back all at once is worth chucking a load of filler artiffacts away for. The two issues are that the card is fairly situational even when you are building around it and just basically never better than Living Death.

Open the Vaults
Open the Vaults 2.5

A rare white recursion spell. I have not as yet seen this used for cheating in big (artifact) dorks. It is probably a better alternative to Scrap Mastery for a Welder deck should they be able to find double white. When you don't want other things from white and when you can just run power houses like Upheaval/Wildfire instead this situational six drop you have to splash for is not popular. The only time I have ever seen this being used is for enchantment recursion but it does have the potential for some more creativity.

Pattern of Rebirth 1

Pattern of RebirthA bit too much of a phaff to bother with compared to alternative cheat in options. You need a dork to enchant with this and then a sacrifice outlet so as to trigger it. They can be one and the same with things like Sakura Tribe Elder but this obviously makes it a lot narrower. So either it is a 3 card combo or a super narrow poor mans Natural Order. Being an enchantment there are some quirky things you can do with this but it tends to be more on the white Academy Rector end of things than the cheating in of fatties.

Champion of Rhonas 5

Champion of RhonasI've not yet tested this but I am pretty confident of how and where it will work. You never want to rely on this as your main cheat in effect as it is relatively easily disrupted and generally pretty slow. What this does well is add some redundancy to any deck with green, that is able to get to four mana and wants to "Show and Tell" more often. Some interesting applications with Sneak Attack too allowing you to permanently Sneak in a fatty via this thing. The card is a little polar, certainly as new cards go. It is pretty fair but appropriately on theme to be worthy of consideration.

The Fatties

Emrakul, the Eons Torn 9.5

Emrakul, the Aeons Torn
Practically unbeatable if cast, near impossible to win if it just attacks you once and yet still powerful enough to play with something like a Show and Tell where it has to wait to attack and doesn't get the cast trigger! If Emrakul works with your things at all then there is a good chance she is one of the best targets on offer. It is that simple, this is just so so much card. Fortunately she doesn't work with a lot of the enablers and it is really hard to reach her full potential even with the ones that do work for her. Ideally you want to cast her and have her attack right away but that isn't really on the cards. Getting her into play or getting one attack out of her is usually the best you can hope for and generally more than enough for the win.

Emrakul, the Promised EndEmrakul, the Promised End 7.5

This newer incarnation of the most badass thing in all of magic is a pretty interesting one in the contexts of these kinds of deck. She doesn't do that much of that much as you rarely get the cast trigger with the cheat in effects. She isn't disruptive in any way nor does she really add to what you are doing. The Eons Torn will typically shut anything else down with her annihilate, Myr Battlesphere makes a massive board, Griselbrand refils your hand with gas and so on. The Promised End is just a big dork. That being said, she is very very big, and flying, and trample, and protection from instants. All told she is pretty good at ending the game. In addition to that she is a little easier to use than the Eons torn as she will stay in a graveyard if put there. The thing that really pushes her is the fact that you can very realistically expect to hard cast her should the game go on past the midgame. Very few cards of such power that you would consider worth cheating in come close be being something you can actually just cast. Oh, and when you cast her she is like twice as good, if not more so. She is most unusual as you find yourself warping your deck to better fulfill delirium when you have her as a target. She is good enough too that it is usually right. Playing that Nameless Inversion over the Doomblade etc!
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre 8

The poor mans Eons Torn. Generally you only play this when you don't have Eons Torn or you want a second one. The only time you ever play this over Eons Torn is when you expect mass removal destroy effects. Annihilate four is strong but it doesn't have the same shutdown potential as Emrakul. I have often seen Ulamog have to sit back as they will just die on the back swing too often. Ulamog isn't even very quick to end a game as he can be chumped. Overall he is at least a turn slower than Eons Torn. The fact that he is probably the second most powerful thing in magic isn't very impressive when he sits so firmly in the shadow of Emrakul, the Eons Torn.

Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger 7

New Ulamog is a fair bit better than the old in these kinds of application. He is always ending the game in two attacks and as such is more in line with Eons Torn in game ending speed. He doesn't offer the same kind of disruptive potency. Exile 20 cards from their library doesn't do that much prior to winning, certainly not compared to annihilating them! Where Ulamog has an actual advantage over Eons Torn is that he will happily sit in the bin until you need him making him a lot less narrow. He is also one of the most likely threats to one shot players should they happen to be slower archetypes, or heavy self mill and draw combo style decks.

Kozilek, Butcher of Truth

Kozilek, the Butcher of Truth 4

Sadly Kozilek is a bit of a donkey. He is more worse than any Ulamog than Ulamog is to Eons Torn. Basically this is just an Infinite Gyre without indestructible. And that, if you will remember is the only reason you would ever want the card in the first place. While this guy looks pretty sucky compared to the other Eldrazi he is still one of the biggest meanest cards in the game. He does a lot of damage if he gets to attack and should win most of the time all by himself if he can dodge removal. I would always choose other cards over this for these kinds of deck but would still happily run this if I had to. I would be picking cards like Spellskite a lot higher if I did!

Kozilek, the Great DistortionKozilek, the Infinite Distortion 3.5

Another chunk worse than Butcher but not unplayable at all. Lack of annihilator does make this far less threatening however it is still very big and should be able to end the game in a couple of hits. The one thing it does have over the Butcher, and indeed some of the other good top end stuff, is that you can reasonably expect to protect it. Most removal is cheap and so it is pretty easy to ensure this lives a while after playing it. If you have a cheat in effect that gives haste you absolutely want the cards with effects like annihilator however if you expect the thing to be in play for a while Infinite Distortion becomes a lot more interesting. This card has some disruption potential, some evasion and some protection. It is more rounded and playable than it looks. I wouldn't go so far as to call this good but it is certainly appropriate.

GriselbrandGriselbrand 10

One of the few dorks to give Eons Torn any sort of competition for premium targets. This big demon is incredibly convenient. He works with a lot of the cheat in effects but critically he is also really good in all those he works with. There are not many cards that are both good to Reanimate and good to Sneak Attack into play. Griselbrand is one of the best with both. He is a big fat flier who should dominate the board and threaten to end the game eventually just at that. His life link makes him super effective at countering aggressive decks or for fueling his activated ability so as to combat value decks. Drawing seven is obviously a huge deal, doing it as much as you need is always nice too! It is because of the draw seven that Griselbrand almost always spells game over. They might kill it and not die to the body but you will have followup. Very few decks can deal with massive haymaker cards back to back and that is something Griselbrand tends to start off. One thing to note is that actual Reanimate and Death are far worse when you have Griselbrand as a potential target. You want to be able to safely draw seven before your next turn or before you can gain seven with him. If you pay 8 life to play him you are going to struggle to front that further seven life!

Iona, Shield of EmeriaIona, Sheild of Emeria 4.5

This is a bit of a counter card. A lot of decks will instantly fold to this in play. Sadly against the rest she is just a 7/7 flier. Quite big but far from enough to win with on its own. It doesn't race briliantly, it cannot be offensive and defensive at the same time. It is easy enough to kill (assuming you have answers in multiple colours) and it offers no gain in value. Iona is terrible with Unearth effects and Sneak Attack effects and she is absolutely one of the hardest cards to actually cast. Most of the Eldrazi are easier in the decks that might play such things. Iona doesn't do much at all to help you recover being behind, preventing them playing stuff is no use if they have already dumped their hand onto the board! Typically Iona is found in Oath decks although she is OK in Reanimate if you know she is going to be particularly brutal for some people at the table. While Iona does have a lot of negative points she makes up for this a lot by her ability to be so utterly game ending against the right lists. When you have tutors and are able to fairly reliably select which of your fatties you are going to flop out having these kinds of silver bullet game enders can be pretty nice.

Sheoldred, Whispering One
Sheoldred, the Whipsering One 6

Like Iona this is a card you need to have stay in play to be any good thus making it useless for Unearth and Sneak style decks. Unlike Iona however Sheoldred does help you recover from behind and also offers plenty of value. Sheoldred is quirky in that if in play it is also part of your combo. You will potentially be able to get even more serious threats into play without further cheat effects. Also unlike Iona Sheoldred is one of the more castable things you might cheat out making it a little more rounded and playable generally. The body isn't super exciting but gets a surprising amount of work done with the swampwalk - try and grab a Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth if you expect to run Sheoldred.

Elesh Norn, Grand CenobiteElesh Norn, Grand Cenobite 7

The Grand Cenobite has a rather grand effect on the board. She is a card you want to keep in play for a couple of turns and so doesn't suit Sneak Attack style things quite so well however she is better than a lot of the things you can cheat in should she be dealt with right away. In that scenario she will still have essentially Infest(ed) their board which generally puts a pretty decent dent in any aggression they might have had going on. Should Elesh stick around she will make a lot of their creatures simply dead cards and the rest a whole lot weaker. Elesh can handle most things pretty well herself once in play and goes a very long way to keeping you alive. Offensively Elesh Norn is super weak on her own but oppressive should you have any other dorks in play. She can end games on the spot if you have much of a board with the Infest / Overrun combo. While Elesh is one of the most powerful things you can have in play she is a little more needy than others on this list. Not only do you need the right kind of effects to get her into play you also really want to reliably have dorks in play when you do. This means a lot of supporting dorks or it means other fatties that make tokens are needed, ideally at least some of both.

Borborygmos EnragedBorborygmos Enraged 6.5

This rather awkward dork is surprisingly good in these kinds of decks. Specifically he is good with Goryo's Vengeance as he is one of the best legends to get a single attack with that will stay in a graveyard. Borborygmos is OK to Reanimate into play but is vulnerable to removal and has far less potential effect without attacking. Where you want this big giant most is in Sneak Attack and Shallow Grave supporting decks. In those he is one of the most likely to outright kill somone in one hit. The old turn one kill of Dark Ritual Entomb finding this followed with a Shallow Grave or Vengeance and then having five land after the trigger from dealing at least 5 attack damage to face. Not only does Borborgymos threaten to one shot people he has a reasonable amount of board control allowing you to stabilize a bad spot. He has pretty good synergy with the other things going on in these sorts of decks too. Your lands will be spare lands most of the time if you are already getting off your combo. Putting non lands off the top into the bin is a potential aid to your combo or just a way of adding more synergy to flashback and delve things. Lastly but far from least this guy is great with Griselbrand as they are supported very well by the same cheat in cards. One sets you up and the other kills people. If you find Borborygmos with a Griselbrand you will have so many lands free to machine gun everything to death.

Dragonlord Atarka
Dragonlord Atarka 8.5

Great recovery EtB effect on the back of a really serious threat. This is highly streamlined and very high power. It is good enough to be worth Reanimating or Sneaking in for just that one hit. It is also one of the more commonly hard cast things you play in these lists being cheap and not that colour intense. The body is just massive in a classic threat sort of way. It is near impossible to stop with blockers and it is fairly hard to race, especially after eating five split and targetted damage to your stuff. The EtB effect entirely makes up for the fact that Atarka has no defensive capabilities once attacking and also the potential for a large number of the spot and mass removal cards to take him down.

ProgenitusProgenitus 2

So I think this is pretty awful. You can't hard cast it ever. It is super weak with one shot cards as it just does 10 damage and gains no other value at all. It is incredibly awkward to try and Reanimate and just not worth it compared to the other cards on offer. The only cheat in cards that really work with this thing well at all are Oath, Show and Tell, Shelldock Isle, Eureka, and Natural Order. That might sound like a lot but it really isn't. Especially given that mostly these are the weaker cheat in cards or they are ones you use in support of other themes that obviously the Progenitus wouldn't work with at all. This is basically a 10/10 unblockable shroud dork. It is a two turn clock but it offers no value and no defense. The real issue is that the card is too easy to beat compared to how much effort it is to play. They can race it pretty often and there are plenty of removal effects in cube that deal with it. If it were also immune to Edict effects and had indestructible then perhaps it would be more worth the bother of playing it. Being such a bad thing to draw is a pretty big setback for this card given that a lot of the best things to cheat it in are green. Green decks have less ability to utilize dead cards in hand than red, blue or black so they like to play targets they have some hope of hard casting. Green or GX cards that cost 6-8 mana are often better cheat in cards than Progenitus and they are not just a dead draw.

Linvala, the PreserverLinvala, the Preserver 2.5

This is a little bit too fair to be something you really want to cheat in. While this is a fantastic card for keeping you alive when under pressure it just isn't as much power as basically every other target here. This might be a good board target to bring in against the aggressive decks but running it main and risking it just being a 5/5 flier against a control deck is pretty lame. While it might look like one of those nice cards you can hard cast the fact that it is double white actually makes it pretty unlikely. White is the least commonly used cheat in colour. There will be occasions this is suitable but it is not actively something you are looking to pickup. Probably best with Sneak Attack /Shallow Grave style things but value and delay in such decks rather than a win condition.

Worldspine WurmWorldspine Wurm 7

This is one of those next level dorks. It is closer in power to Emrakul and the really big names than it is to any of the other green things here. It is often well out of reach of being hard cast even in green ramp decks. You need some really potent mana generation like Gaea's Cradle to have a hope of casting this. It does happen, it is still wildly more castable than Progenitus! Typically however you want your top end at 7 and 8 if you want casting them as a backup (which the green based cheat in decks generally do). This is the card you want to Sneak Attack in. It does a vast amount of damage and leave behind an army of serious threats that will keep you alive and then finish the job of winning the next turn. The reason we don't see loads of this getting play is that it only works brilliantly in the Sneak based deck. The rest of the effects that work well for this are the Progenitus ones and as discussed those are generally weaker or just supporting cards. Woldspine Wurm does also have some serious blowout potential. It has many of the same weaknesses as Progenitus in that it is a two turn clock that offers very little defenses. It is horrifically vulnerable in that time to tap effects, bounce effects and exile effects which Progenitus isn't. For such a heavy card the risk reward chart is a little awkward when things like Path and Plow are so played. Despite this is it very well suited to its task and incredibly powerful. You can easily offset its drawbacks and if nothing else, I would always play this over Progenitus! Flash is the other thing this goes with as it is the best on death trigger in the game but that isn't so much of a thing as Flash itself isn't great.

TerastodonTerastodon 2

This looks versatile and powerful but it is actually super clumsy. Either this is disruption in that it is a triple Stone Rain but has no net change in the difference to stats on the board, or it is the most all in play of all time where you make 18/18 stats over four bodies but put all your lands in the bin thus conceding to any mass removal, probably even a deathtouch and a 3/4.... Often neither of these options gets it done and you do some blend of killing a couple of relevant things of theirs and some of your own seemingly less relevant things. That would be quite good if the Terastodon was at all good as a threat on his own but lacking any evasion or resilience he is just awful. Almost every planeswalker counters him. He is easily killed, easily raced and easily stopped. This guy needs trample so hard. This is far better in a pure ramp deck where you will much more reliably have spare lands and resources to throw away or perhaps more need of dealing with specific things. This really isn't a good cheat in card.

Woodfall PrimusWoodfall Primus 6

This is the card Terastodon wishes it was! This kills a thing without having to concede any 3/3s. Despite only being a 6/6 it has trample as will do more reliable or meaningful damage. If you get this out quickly the land destruction is utterly brutal. Later on the ability to kill things like planeswalkers becomes far more significant. This is always a good thing to put into play on your side regardless of what is going on. Due to the persist this is also a really good Sneak Attack target. Six trample damage, two instances of Bramblecrush and a 5/5 trample left in play is a lot of value. Due to how slow the Primus is to actually kill someone it is more of a stall, defense and value card than a true game ending threat. While most of the good ones do all the things well to some extent this is certainly one of the lowest in threat level! This is the kind of card that affords enough swing in the game to stop you dying and allow you to cheat out another thing which combined with the Primus will be enough to win.

Hornet QueenHornet Queen 7

If you want a defensive threat this is pretty much the best going. It doesn't keep you safe to direct face damage as it has no life gain potential but for board control and stopping attackers this is the premium card on offer. Very few things can attack into this with much hope of getting some value or surviving to tell the tale. This is the sort of top end you want to pair with an Elesh Norn. On its own it is not that great at ending the game having a pretty slow clock. It is rather like the Primus in its role, it buys you enough tempo and board presence to be able to easily take the game from that point with your other cards. Avenger of Zendikar is far weaker in this role as you have few lands early when it is best to cheat big things in, the plants don't fly nor can you pump them up to being relevant without the Avenger itself in play.Basically, if you want lots of things, if you don't want to die to attacks, play this.

Craterhoof BehemothCraterhoof Behemoth 6.5

This is rather the odd one. On its own it is pretty pointless however it does not take much for this to be on the spot game ending. If you already have a board you can put this into play however you like and it will usually be enough to win the game with there and then. The one two punch of making a Hornet Queen and following it with Craterhoof is enough damage output to kill someone with 20 life and the same again in toughness on flying blockers! The kinds of things going on in decks that make Elesh Norn good also make Craterhoof good. Those being army producing top end and cheap support creatures. As Crafterhoof is so linear in application and so useless without other dorks it is fairly rare to have a list that supports it but when you do it is incredibly worthwhile to pick up.

Simic Sky SwallowerSimic Sky Swallower 5

This is just another better version of Progenitus. This is a very hard to stop or remove thing that will do reliable damage and end the game. This is at least a turn slower than Progenitus but it makes up for this in many other ways. Firstly Sky Swallower works with a wider selection of the cheat effects than Progenitus does. It is also something you can hard cast without too much difficulty. Lastly Sky Swallower is flying and has better defensive applications. You can just stall with it and find something else to get you there if you are not going to win a race. This thing has held up better than most dorks given its age. Not insanely powerful but very well suited to the task. This is one of the most reliable offensive dorks you can play and sits nicely at the other end of the spectrum to Hornet Queen.

Inkwell LeviathanInkwell Leviathan 8

This is the other Simic Sky Swallower and is a big part of why we see less of the big fish in cheat in focused decks (that is one of the nice things about Sky Swallower in the cube in general, it is something you can just play at the top end of a normal deck and it gets about half of its play in that manner). Inkwell is 9 mana rather than 7 and so while better at doing the same job as Leviathan it is almost never something you hard cast. Inkwell is the go to card for a wide array of cheat in mechanics when you want a card that reliably ends the game. Being an artifact that will remain in a graveyard you can Tinker it, Reanimate it or Welder it into play. Being the best at its role and having this good of a range means this is one of the most commonly seen things to be cheated in and one of the more sought after in draft. A 7/11 is pretty vast and although it lacks flying the trample combined with its size ensures it is getting through damage and surviving really well. The island walk is just a nice bit of icing on the cake that ensures a good number of people you face will find this entirely unstoppable with dorks. Although this is great with most of the things that put stuff into play permanently Inkwell is of no real use with the one shot affairs as it affords no extra value and only does seven damage at best.

Sphinx of the Steel WindSphinx of the Steel Wind 7.5

This is another card like Inkwell that has a broad range of application with the cheat in effects and performs a specific role better than any other card. This is an artifact that stays in the bin and that makes it one of the top handful of cards for all round general cheat in shenanigans goodness. The role this card performs is beating red and/or green decks. Any deck based in those colours can't beat this. They can't kill it, they can't race it and they can't stop it killing them. Almost all the usual answer cards in the other three colours work just fine on this thing and so it is something you want to include as part of a toolbox of threats. It is fine to have a target that is unlikely to win the game against the majority of your opponents if you have an easy auto win against a couple. This isn't even the worst with Sneak Attack and other one shot things as a 12 point life swing is meaningful. It will buy you a lot of safety with the life and should do enough damage that a lot of your other targets become lethal.

Wurmcoil Engine
Wurmcoil Engine 9

So this is the broadest range card on the list just about working pretty reasonably with most of the things and very very well with some others. Wurmcoil is a defensive beast and a great source of value. It doesn't care much about a lot of removal effects, it can attack even if you are under pressure due to the lifelink. It is OK with a single attack as it offers a reasonable 12 point swing and the potential to leave behind a decent board presence. This is one of the premium Welder targets as you stand to get extra value with it. It is also pretty desirable in a lot of lists simply for being the easiest and quickest of the top end threats to be hard cast. While this isn't often seen directly ending games in these lists it is often the card that put the game out of reach for the opponent.

Myr BattlesphereMyr Battlesphere 8.5

This is the card that comes closest to Wurmcoil Engine overall. It has a massive range of effects it works with. It offers great defense and great value. You can eventually expect to just cast it. Battlesphere offers a massive amount of stats spread over a lot of bodies. It also has an odd form of mild evasion. This gives you a lot of flexibility in combat to get in safe damage, take out planeswalkers all while putting up a suitable defense. Battlesphere will 2 shot an undefended player applying a possible 12 damage per attack although more typically it will more slowly grind out an advantage in combat rather more like Hornet Queen. The convenience, security and versatility of the Battlesphere make it one of the premium fatties for a number of these kinds of decks.

Sundering TitanSundering Titan 4.5

This is rather past its best now. Mostly this is just not a very helpful body. It might be big but without any evasion it is a terrible game ender. Without any key words it is a pretty poor defensive card as much as a massive dork can be. A lot of things in cube are cheap and there are plenty of duals without basic land types. It is pretty easy to remain functional after eating a load of LD from the Titan, especially if you are expecting it at all. Against slow and clunky midrange decks, ideally three or more colour ones you can expect the Sundering Titan to be pretty game endingly brutal. Mostly however you will blow up a couple of land of theirs, a couple of yours and they won't care at all and will just continue to kill you. This is best in the decks most focused on speed but I think that it is bad enough on average and sufficiently polar in performance to really only be something you want as a sideboard option.

Breya, Etherium ShaperBreya, Master of Etherium 6

So this thing gets cheated in quite a lot despite being a whole two mana less than the things I typically deem the cheapest you can go and still feel like you are getting something good at the end of it. This is effectively a six mana card. A reasonable approximation of the expected power of gold cards is that your 2nd colour of mana adds about a 1/3rd of a mana, the 3rd colour adds 2/3rds of a mana and the fourth is a whole extra mana. As such a four colour card should be about two mana higher than the curve. Anyway, this thing is a lot of card. It is a lot of utility and a lot of value. It doesn't have quite the same presence as the Wurmcoil or the Battlesphere but it is safer and more rounded than either. She gives you some value if dealt with and works with a lot of the cheat in effects on offer pretty well. The real icing on the cake is that you can hard cast her really early should you have a good amount of fixing which is really unfair! Low power compared to most of the other things on this list but impressively suitable despite that.

Combustible Gearhulk
Combustible Gearhulk 6

Much as I hate this card it has performed pretty well in the appropriate cheat in lists thus far. It turns out that when you have library manipulation and other high CMC cards in your deck the EtB trigger on this is pretty scary. I have seen this end games on the spot against greedy or ignorant players. The body isn't great but it is near impossible to kill in combat, first strike scales up to be more of a resilience ability than an evasive one as it is when attacking with smaller first strike dorks. What is great is getting three cards on the back of your large dork or doing them enough damage that your large dork needs chumping for the rest of the game. This dude utterly ends games on his own when you can Welder him in and out of play. Recurring Nightmare works for that too.

Torrential Gearhulk 3

Not really the thing for these kinds of deck. You typically don't have loads of instants and they typically are not the key spells you want to be using again. The body on this is weak, the flash is useless if you are cheating it in and so all round this is just not the thing. Great control and midrange card though!

Noxious GearhulkNoxious Gearhulk 7

Another surprisingly good card to come from Kaladesh. This is the only good cheat in card that gives you life right there and then without having to attack. This is the best all round value, defense, answer, stall card you can play. It does a lot of what Wurmcoil Engine does but it also give the life quicker and deals with a specific problem. Wurmcoil is still generally better being an ongoing source of life and just that much bigger. Wurmcoil is always good while Gearhulk is only nuts when they make something big themselves. Despite being a little polar I do like the security of this card and will fairly happily play it. Generally if I am running four cheat in targets I want one that is purely for ending the game and the rest I want to buy me time, gain me value, solve problems, and/or beat specific archetypes. As such there is plenty of call for cards like this.

Blightsteel ColossusBlightsteel Colossus 8.5

For cards that can one shot people this is probably the best. If you have the kind of deck that can make a massive thing with haste and they suspect you are playing this they will always have to keep at least 2 toughness of blockers back or risk instant death to it. That is a Daze style win right there getting value from something you might not draw, perhaps not even have! Great with Sneak Attack for that potential but really awkward in that it does very little with just one attack should they have blockers. This thing typically kills in two hits and so Sneak decks will need specific tutors or ways to force things through should they be relying on this as a win condition. This is also commonly used as a Tinker target as it kills so quickly and reliably while being rather awkward to remove.

Darksteel ColossusDarksteel Colossus 5

Only better than Blightsteel in that it works towards the same win condition as your other dorks and so this can finish someone off or get them in range such than something else will finish them off. This has no one shot potential, poor defensive capabilities and is just big. At best it is now backup for when you don't have the ideal targets you wanted.

Inferno Titan 7

Mini Borborgymos. This guy will do 12 plus firebreathing damage in one swing or it will wrath their board. This is good tempo, good value and a nicely on theme card. It is also one of those more castable ones for bonus value. Pretty decent in Sneak Attack/Unearth things and again, pretty decent in Reanimate decks too.

Inferno Titan
Grave Titan 8

This is one of the largest things you can put into play. It is 10/10 worth of stats right away, spread nicely over three bodies. It is a joke this is only 6 mana to actually cast given its size and power. It is fine to put into play and fine to get just one attack out of it as well making it very effective with a large number of the cheat in cards. Grave Titan offers a good amount of defense, a good amount of value and a very snowbally win condition that can attack while retaining defenses. The only weakness of the card is in combat. To use it as a win condition the 6/6 body has to survive. A 6/6 is pretty big but most decks can take it down with a simple double block. You will be a lot ahead if they have to do this but you have far from gotten enough value from such a line of play to lock in a win. If you have much spot removal or ways to protect the Titan he is a little better but really he doesn't need improving, he is plenty over powered as it is. Simply put this does more than most of the 7 and 8 mana cards on this list.

Massacre WurmMassacre Wurm 4

Compared to Elesh Norn this is pretty limp. It has two things that might make it something you want. One is that this is something you can cast. The second is more relevant and it is that this is something you can win the game with on the spot. Against a weenie deck this can not only Wrath them but do them pretty critical damage as well. I might consider using this in a known meta, perhaps against someone playing elves! Just running this blind seems weak, it is poor as a threat and also poor removal against too much.

Demon of Dark Schemes 5.5

Demon of Dark SchemesThis is another incarnation of Massacre Wurm. It is worse if you are playing small support dorks and doesn't have the one shot capacity against opposing weenie decks. To make up for this the Demon is flying making it a much better body able to attack and defend much more effectively. It also supports your recursion theme being able to spend any energy gained to recur further dorks to win with. A useful and rounded card but relatively low power and impact compared to many of the things you can cheat in.

Overseer of the Damned 6?

Overseer of the DamnedWhile this ticks a lot of boxes it has not seen much love. It is in that middle ground where you want to play a comparable power six drop that you have significantly more chance of just casting or you want to play something utterly obscene that costs eight or more mana instead. This is pretty good, it is 7/7 stats, it should be at least a two for one, it is an answer, it provides good defense, some ongoing value and it is reasonable at closing the game. This should see more play than it does and should be good, people just don't seem that into it.

Sutured Ghoul 3

Sutured GhoulFor a full on combo approach you can use this bad boy with some other bits and bobs so as to one shot people. Rather than use discard people would historically use self mill so that not only would the Ghoul be in the yard but also 20+ power of dorks, perhaps some guaranteed way to recur is involving flashback cards and Narcomoeba! You would even use cards like Anger to haste it up. This is necessary as Shallow Grave cards won't work when your graveyard is all random from the self mill. This is a much more effective plan in 60 card constructed where you are more able to put all the required things into your deck without harming your consistency. In cube it is pretty hard to setup the Ghoul to be a safe and reliable one shot combo. Doable but probably not as good as some easier options.

Serra Avatar 1

Another old one shot pony! Back in the day people would Sneak this out and one shot people. The idea that you could do that now past blockers, removal and taking a massive beating to the point of this be far from fatal is pretty laughable. Don't play this, it is very bad.
Stormtide Leviathan

Stormtide Leviathan 6.5

One of the best lockdown creatures on offer. This is a reasonably quick and reliable threat that shuts down a vast amount of potential aggression against you. It is vulnerable to spot removal but otherwise it is pretty good at its task. You ideally want to pair it with flying threats so that it doesn't lock down your stuff as well. This also has some cute interactions with Choke that let you do more than lockdown their attackers. Not the flashiest threat out there but a surprisingly well suited to task one.

Ashen Rider
Ashen Rider 6

The new improved Angel of Despair. If you want a dork that deals with things then this is the best on offer. It hits any target and it exiles it ensuring the full and final removal of it being an issue! It then threatens to do it again if it dies. Where this card falls down slightly is that it is just a 5/5 flier with a near impossible to reach price tag. It doesn't end the game quick enough or provide quite enough value to win the game on its own. For an uncastable card you ideally want to do better than this. A good toolbox card but not a threat you should expect to win the game with.

Karmic Guide

Karmic Guide 3.5

This is a lovely support dork that lets you do a lot of things. The idea is to use cards like Buried Alive and Gifts Ungiven to fill up your yard accordingly. Then you use your Reanimate on this costing you a mere five life and affording you an extra body to go with your fatty. This can be for things like Cabal Therapy flashbacks or it can just be for a little extra defense that turn. Typically these kinds of deck don't have the space for luxuries such as this but a unique and useful option none the less.

Sharuum the Hegemon
Sharuum the Hegemon 4

This is the artifact version of Karmic Guide. While the range is narrower the perks you get are much greater. This is a 5/5 not a 2/2 and this has no echo cost meaning it will happily stay in play and help you win. This is still a bit of a luxury card however, it is terrible when you are not also getting another fatty alongside it and that means twice the setup effort for this to be good. Typically I would rather a cheap support card or a stand alone top end card.

Akroma 1.5

Akroma, Angel of WrathThis golden oldie isn't really up to the task any more. Her clock isn't that impressive, her defenses are not that oppressive and her survivability and value are pretty low. The only time this is a really good thing to flop out is against red and/or black decks and even there she isn't the auto win that Sphinx of the Steel Wind is against red and/or green. Akroma offers no life which is what beats red. Black can also fairly easily deal with Akroma through the protection with Wraths and Edicts.

Verdant Force 1.5

Verdant ForceThis is another example of a good target to reanimate 10+ years ago. It would overwhelm a board in not too long and had some nice protection against edicts. Now you are just going to play something more front loaded like a Hornet Queen if you want a load of bodies on the board. If you just want a seriously good and powerful dork then there are far far more powerful things on offer than this. As such all the roles this used to fulfill are just done better by other cards leaving this with no place as a cheat in target.

Phantom Nishoba 2

Phantom NishobaApparently this is a history lesson now. Another big name in the old vanguard of Reanimate targets. This was the best source of anti-red and lifegain on offer. While super cold to destroy effects this thing was horrific to try and kill with damage and unleashed an unreasonable amount of life gain and damage before it could be taken down. While still good against red there are now equally good things against red that have little more game in other matchups.

Bosh, Iron Golem 3

Bosh, Iron GolemBosh is quite useful but only if you have mana and high CMC artifacts to spare. A 6/7 trample is OK but it is hardly worthy of cheating in. Bosh saw most of his play in mana ramp artifact decks rather than cheat in ones. His best trick was throwing a Darsksteel Colossus at face for the surprise kill a turn sooner than expected. This is still OK in the right deck but he is not the standalone card you want your top end threats to be.

Platinum Emperion 4

This and the old Platinum Angel are a different take on the Stormtide Leviathan / Iona lockdown fatty. Some decks just can't beat this and so you win, all be it very slowly. Most however can, some totally won't care about an 8/8 and the others will have a number of outs. This means on average this is more of a stall card than a win condition. If anything the Angel was better as a 4/4 flier can at least get in some damage! If you have lots of protection, things like countermagic, Spellskite, Lightning Greaves etc then these cards improve in value. I prefer to threaten a win than stalling when it comes to the top end stuff and so I rarely elect to play these things.

Platinum EmperionHellkite Overlord 4.5

If you thought you wanted Akroma you should instead play this. It hits hard, it hits right away, it is massive, it has all the right evasion and it even has some mild ability to protect itself. This is something you put into play rather than Unearthing or Sneaking in as the haste is wasted in the latter cases and that is a big part of what makes this viable. The reason this kind of card isn't used so much these days is that even if you get the god opener with a turn two Reanimate, Exhume etc you will still often lose the race if you do nothing else, particularly if you pay 8 life. A good card, perhaps the best at its thing but really you want cards that have other effects going on that are interactive or offer huge value.
Hellkite Overlord

Empyrial Archangel 1

The perk on this thing is now almost a drawback. If this is your only blocker a lot of attacks will just kill this. It will read destroy target attacking creature and gain 8 life! This is a slightly better threat than a Platinum Emperion with the flying but it has far less synergy with the good cheat in effects and is a far less potent survival tool.

Jin-Gitaxias, Core AugurJin-Gitaxis, Core Augur 3

This is purely for effect. The body is the biggest do nothing on this list. You can use this as a poor mans Griselbrand to draw seven, if a little bit slower, with Unearth and Sneak effects. If you put this into play you can even hope to Mind Twist them, again in a very slow manner. This will get killed before the effects are able to trigger a lot of the time. As it offers basically no tempo you will just get killed before you can abuse the card advantage side of things. This is too slow for its effects and too poor of a tempo play to be a great cheat in effect. Certainly it is powerful but I think there are far better directions to be going than this.

Nicol Bolas

Nicol Bolas 3

If you really want to Mind Twist people then this is probably a better option than Jin-Gitaxis. To use Bolas effectively you need the things that give it haste. This means it is pretty good for the Sneak and Unearth cards. Otherwise you give them too much time to respond and have to pay the upkeep which is pretty ghastly. If your deck is incredibly quick this is a lot better. Generally you want to steer clear of cards that scale so poorly into the game. Most decks will have played enough things from their hand by the time this is hitting them to still be in the game. Without some followup you are not winning. I would consider this as a SB tool against control decks pretty exclusively.

Yosei, the Morning Star

Kukusho, the Evening Star 2

Little immediate impact and really pretty small as far as top end threats go. I don't think there is a place for this dude in these kinds of deck anymore. The best case for this is off a Sneak Attack where you deal 10 and gain 5, nice but only have the job and no lasting value or disruption. Power creep has made this no longer good enough for heads up magic.

Yosei, the Morning Star 4.5

The effect of this is not unlike a Time Walk. That makes it quite a nice support fatty in decks which can reliably sacrifice this such as Recurring Nightmare or Sneak Attack. When playing/building with it consider it more in the role of Temporal Mastery than that of an actual threat. The only one from this cycle that has stood the test of time sufficiently well to remain playable. If using cards like this with Unearth effects cards like Cabal Therapy become immensely valuable.

The Support

Tutors/Card Quality/Dig

Vampiric TutorVampiric Tutor 10

Combo decks love a tutor. These lovely little things act as all the parts of your combo, fixing or an out to a problem card. Pick them incredibly highly if you are black. Vampiric is the best if you are all about speed but its not often you find yourself with too many tutor effects and so this is something you are pretty much always playing if you can.

Demonic Tutor 10

Still nice and cheap but with no life loss or card disadvantage. One of the best cards for this archetype. It is good in every list it goes in and it goes in all the lists with black mana. When my opponent casts this against me I expect things to get really awful for me the following turn.

Mystical TutorMystical Tutor 6

Quite significantly worse than the black options. This gets about half the cheat in effects and it gets none of the threats. It is still good at getting outs and despite only getting about half the discard outlets as well you only need one so as long as it can get that it is fine enough for that side of things. You often play this but you always wish is was a black one. You have to be that much more aware of what things it can and can't get for you. I think the only time it is more desirable than a black tutor is when you are relying on Channel as one of your effects which is a pretty bad starting place for any list! As this doesn't find any of the good red cheat in effects you typically only see this in the Reanimate / Shallow grave lists and those both being black mean this is very much a backup card.

Lim-Dûl's VaultLim Dul's Vault 10

This is probably the actual best tutor for these kinds of archetype. It does basically what Vampiric Tutor does for you but it can do that potentially up to five times in a single cast. Often you have one part of the combo and need two more (of the recursion, discard and threat) at which point the tutor that can find multiple things for you is the thing. Given you typically have several of each of the parts it is quite likely you will find a five card section of your deck containing the two you need. Used well this thing sorts out your entire game for you. An overlooked and underrated card, also one of the hardest, if not the hardest card in all of magic!

Enlightened Tutor

Enlightened Tutor 5

This actually has a better range than Mystical Tutor overall. The reason this is worse is that you have to build with it much more in mind making it more demanding and it is white making it a whole lot narrower. This gets a number of the cheat in effects as well as a number of the threats. It can help you ramp or fix and it can even find a selection of answer cards. You just need to include them...  White is getting closer to the other colours slowly and when it hits that critical mass of good support then it will see a lot more play in these kinds of deck. If and when that happens this will just to at least a 7/10 card.

Traverse the Ulvenwald

Traverse the Ulvenwald 7

This is more of a midrange card in my books but you can still get it working well in these lists. Delirium is pretty easy to get when you have discard themes going on. It is still pretty easy in these cheat and diverse kinds of deck even without the discard! Finding a basic is fine, it is often what you need to do early and well worth it when you can. A little later on and this will also find any creature you might want or a more exotic land if for some reason you need that instead. In decks where you really want specific creatures (usually an Emrakul) then this is just a good way to up the consistency of your deck. You have to be pretty heavy green to do this though as not having this reliably fixing for you early makes it much weaker.

Fierce EmpathWorldly Tutor 4

This is generally just worse than Traverse although it does have the advantage of speed at finding dorks. The problem with pure creature tutor cards is that they only find one part of your combo, in most cases you are just better off running another threat than a tutor. It is only for the lists with the heavy toolbox package or the reliance on specific threats where this kind of thing becomes overly interesting.

Fierce Empath 5.5

This is pretty slow but it finds your top end threat without costing you a card and giving you a chump body too. Because I tend to want threats over tutors for only threats Firce Empath is one of my preferred creature tutor effects as it is doing other things for me as well.

Eladamri's CallMwonvuli Beast Tracker 3

You pay a lot to get that extra power over the Empath. This is fine but pretty far from exciting, it is just annoyingly narrow compared to the alternatives.

Eladamri's Call 3.5

You probably would play this in a deck where Worldly Tutor was of no interest as this isn't card advantage. That said, this does nothing to setup things like Shelldock Isle so it isn't all perks. The real reason you don't see this is that it is white. While white does very occasionally get splashed into these kinds of lists it is properly a splash, they don't play white two mana support cards. Also, white is even less commonly seen with green in these kinds of lists.

Time of NeedTime of Need 6

Really good card, one of those frequently overlooked or forgotten about ones. While this doesn't get all the threats as Fierce Empath basically does this gets all the best ones and it does so for a mana less. Between Traverse, Empath and the Survival of the Fittest Style cards green has plenty more creature tutor stuff than you could ever really need. Time of Need is a great card but it is a touch superfluous.

Summoner's Pact 3

This is limited to green dorks which rather limits where you might want it. The only advantage this thing has over the other tutors is speed which means unless you are finding Craterhoof with it and ending the game on the spot you are better off with most other cards. If you could find any of the other non-green one shot potential cards with this then it would be a whole lot more useful in these kinds of archetype.

ImpulseImpulse 7.5

As soon as you build a deck like this without black you start to need a tonne of cards like this to make up for the lack of tutoring. Play this on turn two on the play and it is seeing an 1/8th of what Demonic Tutor will see. That can be plenty if your deck has good redundancy. If you were just finding a land the Impulse is likely just as good. The more things like this you play the more tutor like they become as they put the stuff you were not looking for away at the bottom of your deck. Cards like this are fine enough filler when you do have tutors and things but they are pretty essential, and in good number, when you don't.
Dig Through Time

Dig Through Time 7

Big daddy Impulse! This is the closest thing to Lim-Dul's Vault going and it is card advantage rather than card disadvantage on top of that. The only reason this isn't directly better than the Vault or the good cards like it is that you can't reliably play this early and typically need a lot of looting and discard effects to even play at all. This card not only has good setup potential but it also has decent recovery potential. While you don't want many cards that can't be involved in the game earlier on this is very much one of the best of such cards.

See BeyondTreasure Cruise 6.5

Treasure Cruise is much like the Dig, a good late game card but not something you want loads of. Cruise is well supported by the archetype in general but not wildly on theme for it. Drawing cards is obviously great but doing so later in the game, even if cheaply, is less what you need. At its best in the grindy games where you expect to eat removal, counter magic or targetted discard. Pretty weak against aggressive decks where you often won't get to use this.

Lat Nam's Legacy 7.5
See Beyond 8

These two cards are mild card quality effects. They do less in that area than Impulse and most of the one drops. You play these cards for a specific reason and that is to return things to your library that you plan on cheating out from that location. Most notably this is Tinker and Oath of Druids but it also applies to Natural Order, Birthing Pod and to a degree things like Aetherworks Marvel and Shelldock Isle. When you need specific things to be in specific places the cards that let you move other cards about are incredibly useful. See Beyond is typically better in the combo decks as you get the cards right away and don't need the effect to be instant as much.

Brainstorm 9

Likely your best card quality card whatever form of deck you are making. We all know quite how good Brainstorm is relative to the alternatives. This does the same sort of thing as Lat-Nams and See Beyond except on a much more potent card. It also works significantly better with things like the Shelldock and Oath which are looking specifically at the top cards rather than your whole library in the case of Tinker.

Scroll Rack 6

This is rather slow and cumbersome for these kinds of deck. You either need abuses for the Rack such as Land Tax or you need to be pretty desperate for things that put cards back in your library, presumably because you didn't get any of the good cheap blue effects. The value of this rapidly drops off as the game goes on as you typically expend a lot of your hand very quickly.

Sensei's Divining TopSensei's Divining Top 6.5

This is another slow card. It is good card quality but rather mana hungry. In the Tinker / Welder builds I am very happy to have this as it is serving many more roles than just card quality. I would much rather be running cheap blue card quality spells than this without any specific synergies for it however.

Sylvan Library 7.5

This is a much more economic version of the Divining Top if you don't have need of the artifacts. This is still pretty slow compared to the instant and sorcery card quality effects but it will do a whole lot more for the mana over the course of a few turns. Really good for those decks wishing to have control over what they don't draw and what is on the top of their library but still plenty good enough to be played as card quality and occasional draw in decks without those needs. You will need some shuffle, mill and/or scry effects to take full advantage of the Library but most combo orientated decks should be able to manage that.

PonderPonder 8.5
Serum Visions 8
Preordain 8
Opt 7
Sleight of Hand 7

Cheap card quality is great. It is generally more efficient than cards like Impulse even if they are not nominally as powerful. You want some of these things if you are blue. If you are not black you want a lot of these kinds of thing. It cycles through your deck so that you have a higher ratio of the key cards and it helps you find the specific ones you need. The best filler you can get generally. Opt is the weakest on this list as you don't tend to need the instant speed. You are mostly about the raw effect and so the ones that see more cards and give more selection are the best. These can even out perform the Brainstorm when you don't need the return to library effect and lack shuffle.

PeekGitaxian Probe 8
Peek 7
Quicken 6

These are good blue cycle cards with some mild added utility. You use these again, to reduce the effective size of your list thus upping the important card ratios. Peek and Probe are nice as they let you chose the best line of play with greater information. If you don't have targetted black discard the value of these two is a lot greater. Quicken is an odd one. It can be very useful if you happen to have things that don't stay in graveyards and sorcery ways to recur them. Quicken Exhume on an Emrakul is rather delicious! The thing is that is super uncommon as you don't want to be building decks that have these weak interactions. Exhume is awful with Eons torn unless you have the Quicken and so you avoid building a deck that has that pairing.

GambleGamble 4

A Demonic Tutor and a discard outlet in one card for a mere one mana! Sadly the random discard makes this super turdy. It is an Entomb when you have hellbent... This is playable in the role of a tutor if you are truly desperate. There are situations where you can mitigate the downside. If you can get key effects you might need onto the board before using your Gamble you are in a better position to gain from it. Cards like Recurring Nightmare and Liliana of the Veil can allow you to Gamble up something and be able to put it to some use regardless of what you discard. Targets that work from anywhere are nice too such as Dread Return or Unburial Rites. Obviously you can also just be a total luck sack and tutor up your Reanimate effect and discard the fatty you want to recur from your hand on turn one for the easy mode win. Cards that have such a massive range on effectiveness are much more interesting when you think you have a bad deck. A well named card in this regard!

Deep AnalysisDeep Analysis 6.5

Not the worlds most powerful card however when you have access to lots of discard the value of this rather increases. When you are reliably discarding this and having it as a two mana option from early in the game it is pretty good. In the lists with a lot of discard in them this has a good shot of outperforming Treasure Cruise.

Night's Whisper 7

The Deep Analysis you don't have to discard! If you are digging for a discard outlet or you are not a deck that cares about getting things in the yard then this is one of the best cheap early tools. Card draw is pretty lovely in these kinds of lists but it is usually too expensive and slow to include. Just a very rounded and appropriate filler card. There are a lot of card disadvantage effects in these kinds of deck and these tools give you staying power and greatly help combat enemy disruption. You can wind up playing too much stuff that hurts you with all the two life cost bolted onto black cards and the life payment on Reanimate. Worth being aware of how much you pack especially if you don't have a lifegain fatty to fall back on.

Chromatic Star
Chromatic Star 7.5
Chtomatic Sphere 7
Terrarion 7

Good fixing and cycling in all versions of the deck. For a low cost these help the jankier and 3+ colour decks out immensely. For any deck with artifact synergy these shoot up even more in value. The green based decks don't really need these but the rest find them all sorts of lovely! The only thing rivaling the blue one mana card quality spells as support tools. Not to be underrated.

Baleful Strix

Baleful Strix 9

One of those too good to not play cards pretty much whenever you have the mana to cast it. This is great defense and value, it helps cycle through your deck and it offers both artifact and creature synergies. Play this when you have good black and blue mana.

Snapcaster Mage 9

Super good again in these kinds of decks. You should have a range of things to chose from, many of which pretty high value. Typically you will have cheap card quality and draw. You will have a smattering of disruption from removal to countermagic to targetted discard. Some of your combo support like discard outlets will be reusable with Snapcaster as well as a lot of the actual cheat in effects. Not automatically super good but pretty likely to be. If you have the range and numbers in your instants and sorcery spells and blue mana you can't go too far wrong.
Time Warp

Time Warp / Temporal Manipulation 6.5

On the slower and more control end of what these decks like to do these are very useful cards to have in these lists. They can buy you a little time and keep you in the game should things be looking bad and you are not quite able to do things yet. They also typically turn a lot of your top end into cards that can win the game on their own rather than needing you to find another big thing. These scale particularly well with threats that have ongoing value effects or extra bonuses from attacking or dealing damage. Cards like Sheoldred, the Titans, even just lifelink fatties are all great to have another turn with. The more control and stall cards you have the better these are as well simply due to increased chance of getting to cast them.

Haste Givers

AngerAnger 6

Giving haste to your dork that wasn't Sneak Attacked in or Unearthed into play massively improves your odds on winning. It also makes a lot of dorks significantly better in their roles. If you have the appropriate means to support these haste tools and the the right kind of deck they make a huge huge difference. Show and Tell Emrakul is pretty good but doesn't have as a good a win rate as you might expect Show and Tell and Emrakul when there is an active Anger in the bin and the win rate rapidly closes on 100%. You need the mountains to play this and you also need discard outlets and some form of appropriate tutors. There are a good number of ifs before you look to play this but it is well worth it when you can.

Dragon Breath

Dragon Breath 6

This is incredibly comparable to Anger. You play it when you have dorks without haste that have on attack or on damage triggers of high value. This basically works with all the things you want to cheat in and it doesn't require you to have a mountain to be active. It even gives Firebreating which is a bit more value! There are reasons this is worse that Anger too so which you play, if either, will depend on subtle things in your list. If you want to be able to haste up utility creatures like Goblin Welder then Dragon Breath will not be helpful as it is too small. If you want to haste up multiple dorks at the same time (because you are using Eureka?!?) the Anger is again more suitable. Last but likely most relevant is that Anger can be found with things like Survival of the Fittest and Buried Alive making it that much easier to setup.

Lightning GreavesLightning Greaves 6

These not only provide haste but also shroud which can be pretty huge on the value dorks without protection abilities themselves. There is still a window to use instant removal effects prior to the equip so it is not completely effective protection but it is a good help. The Greaves are a little different to the Anger or Breath options as you actually have to play it. This means it costs you two mana and a card over the other two and is not able to easily be tutored directly into the bin. This is a fairly big cost and often slows you down a turn. That might seem like it is not worth it as haste is just speeding you up a turn and while the shroud is significant the main reason you want these is the haste. The thing is haste buys you a lot more than just time, it is the inability to react accordingly and the lack of information and the removal of sorcery speed things as issues that make haste to valuable in combination with a lot of things you might cheat in. These obviously have the cheap artifact thing going on too making them extra useful in those sorts of decks. Sadly you don't want to sac these to Tinker / Welder up a threat but needs must sometimes.

Graveyard Fillers

Looter il-KorLooter il-Kor 6

Not the quickest card nor the most on theme card for this list but none the less it is pretty good. This is generally worse than a Merfolk Lookter in these kinds of decks as you are only able to get the discard in your combat step making it quite unsuitable for some of the cheat in effects. You also don't really care about the nibble damage or the unblockable dork as other lists will do.

Jace, Vryn's Prodigy 9.5

A nutty good card that adds a lot more to your deck than just a discard outlet. It is value, defense and some potential reuse of key spells. This is so good you are happy playing it in basically any blue deck! As an actual discard outlet there are also times the Merfolk Looter outperforms this but that is pretty minor compared to the perks and power of this thing.

Enclave CryptologistEnclave Cryptologist 7.5

This is a great little card. It is rarely worse than Merfolk Looter and generally a good amount better. Not only can you start looting with this on turn two you can also just turn this into a card advantage machine should the game go at all long. It is pretty east to find that extra mana to play it and activate it compared to a traditional Looter. A fairly premium discard outlet,

Waterfront Bouncer 4

Back in the day this was a big name in cubes. Now it is all together too slow and fair to be of much interest. It is a bit of disruption and a discard outlet but it is small, card disadvantage, slow and rather too mana intense for what it gives you.

Careful StudyCareful Study 8

Cheap, on point and effective. This is good card quality as well as a good discard outlet. It costs you a card but not really. It only costs you a card when you are using it purely to dig into your deck and have nothing to gain from the putting of things into the bin. If your combo needs things in the bin and you are blue then this is something you almost certainly want. Even if you are not building around speed the efficiency of this card is still too good to turn down.
Frantic Search

Frantic Search 8

The other Careful Study. This is cheaper from turn three or so but useless prior to that. As such I tend to prefer the Study although there is still a good deal of surprise plays you can make with this. It is rare you are so flush with suitable discard outlets that you are passing this up. Low ultimate mana cost, direct as well as being card quality on top of enabling your combo.

AttunementAttunement 6.5

This is a very heavy discard outlet. It is slow and costly but it has a big effect that can be as ongoing as you need it to be. Attunement will eventually find the things you need and if you need them in the yard it will do that for you too.

Intuition 5.5

This is rather annoying in singleton formats as it never gets you the thing you need outside of a basic land. This puts two juicy threats into the bin of your choosing however the one you needed most is stuck in your hand. There is some redundancy in some kinds of recursion spell so you can use this as a tutor for one of those but it is a little all in as you leave basically none in your deck. Generally you want to use this on the big threats and in those there is little redundancy nor do you really want there to be. You want a selection of big things that beat different situations and decks and as such intuition is a fairly week setup card. Still very playable but not as good as it is in other decks and other formats.

Gifts UngivenGifts Ungiven 5

The even worse Intuition, mostly because it costs an insane amount of mana for a support card. Gifts is more of a double Entomb than Intuition is as you can chose to find only two things. Slower controlling versions of reanimate decks can use this slow but reliable tool if they want. This is another card that works far far worse in cube despite it seeming as if that shouldn't be an issue for it. It is more the case of 40 card deck size than the singleton nature of cube. By the time you can play this you have already drawn the things you might have gotten! This ends up getting 4 lands rather too often to be a great cube card.

Thirst for Knowledge 7.5

Good card draw combined with some amount of discard as per your requirements. In any deck wanting a card neutral Careful Study this is good. Any of those with artifacts increase the value and utility of Thirst a nice amount too!

Compulsive Research
Compulsive Research 7

The other Thirst. You never get good value and good discards with this as no threats are lands. Plenty of times with Thirst you only discard one thing but it is the thing you are going to put immediately into play. This is also sorcery so all round it tends to be worse than Thirst but it is still a solid support card for any deck requiring things to get put in the yard.

Faithless Looting

Faithless Looting 9

The best discard tool on offer by quite a significant margin. It offers all the goodness of a Careful Study early yet has far better scaling into the late game. You can use this to turn an Intuition into the thing you actually need it to be as just one example of how this is so much more valuable than yet so similar to the Study.

Tormenting VoiceCathartic Reunion 6.5
Tormenting Voice 7
Wild Guess 5.5

All suitable support cards but they come with a little more baggage than is ideal. All of these are card neutral, cheap card quality effects and a discard outlet. At draw X discard X-1 they would be absolutely premium in a lot of decks, not just those after discard outlets. As they are they are substantially worse. You cannot discard the things you draw so you need to have the things you want to bin in your hand already. You also need to have the cards to discard up front so you cannot play these on an empty hand making them frequently awful top decks. Lastly they are pretty nasty to get countered and you really don't want to have to worry about your support stuff getting countered in a way that can ruin you. Being so good when they work and being so on theme these cards do still get a bunch of play. Wild Guess least so as double red is far more of a problem. Reunion is the most powerful but I would say that the extra risk and baggage it carries makes it less good than the Voice.

Wheel of FortuneWheel of Fortune 5.5

More of a refill card like Treasure Cruise than a discard outlet. As it wipes your existing hand you need to either have the cheat effect in play already or draw into one. This is slow, pretty situational and risky against a lot of matchups. Very cheap decks with lots of card disadvantage effects are those which are best for the Wheel. Any sort of slower deck should find safer and more practical sources of discard and value.

Collective Brutality 9

A premium discard outlet. This does pretty much everything these kinds of combo decks want from a support card. It can help force through a fatty in the face of countermagic or removal. Equally it can put a good dent in an aggressive players plan. It offers a lot of utility while being cheap and enabling your combo. All the black cheat in cards are from the yard while the green, red blue have ones from mostly other places such as hand and library. It is only the red Welder effects that want discard outlets outside of the black ones and so there is a premium on the black cards that do it.

Liliana of the VeilLiliana of the Veil 8.5

A pretty slow discard outlet but a very powerful and rounded one. This is like the ongoing Collective Defiance, you get to grind down the control players by attacking their hand or gain tempo against the aggressive players by killing their dorks and absorbing attacks with loyalty rather than life. Generally pretty worthwhile to play in the black lists.

Entomb 10

The premium in speed and precision. This finds the thing you want from your deck and puts it directly in the bin. It allows for some very reliable turn two recursions as well as the potential to go off on turn one. It obviously is planning on finding the exact fatty you want to recur but it does have potential to be a good utility card in combination with a things like Deep Analysis or Jace, Vryn's Prodigy.

Buried AliveBuried Alive 6.5

About as slow as you can get without being unplayable. This does what you want intuition to do but much more effectively, at a very slight cost of having less other utility. This usually clears your deck of your fatties and lets you recur the most suitable at your leisure from then on without having to hold discard outlets or risk getting bad draws. Buried Alive is significantly more playable with ramp effects that let you get it out on turn two such as a mana elf, Mox or land that taps for two.

Cryptbreaker 6.5

Pretty slow and vulnerable for these sorts of deck. I have to want little creatures before this is a good card and that probably means I am running a Recurring Nightmare themed deck rather than any of the other cheat in effects. This is a nice card in that it does as lot of different things pretty well and for a very low investment. You can win the game with this and nothing else!

Putrid ImpPutrid Imp 5.5

For raw speed and discarding freedom this is the premium card on offer. The issue is this card is pretty much a blank beyond the discard aspect. It would be better as a B enchantment that just said "0: Discard a card from your hand." Speed is nice but in the cube things are a little more rounded. Having speed at your disposal is a bonus but it is not worth compromising all late game capabilities for it. There is a good balance between power and speed that you want to reach, and in cube for these kinds of archetype, I find Putrid Imp to be too much of compromise on this balance.

Heir of Falkenrath 7.5

This is a great example of a good replacement for Putrid Imp. This costs a mana more and only gives you a single discard. This however is a very relevant body and will do all sorts of work for you in an interactive game. It can kill planswalkers, block effectively or put people into range of being one shot by a lot of your big cards. This is an off theme card outside of the discard but it is sufficiently powerful and interactive that you are usually able to get a good amount of value out of the body.

Smallpox 7

Quite a serious card but also quite a lethal one if used right. For this to be worth running you need to have a very cheap deck so that putting your own land into the bin isn't an issue on casting further things. Ideally you need to have few to no small creatures as well. This is obviously at its best when the creature kill only hits them and the discard is a positive effect for you. It is rather on the all in side, not only because it hits your total resources pretty hard but because of the style of deck where Smallpox is optimal - if all your cards are cheap (or at least the ones you plan to cast) then you are less likely to have that much late game legs. This is brutal for midrange decks and control decks but often not doing enough against more aggressive decks.

Dack FaydenDack Fayden 8

An insanely good discard outlet and source of card quality. Dack is a pretty good card when he has no synergy at all, he is great when he is fueling delve and such like. When he is enabling your combo he is fantastic. Pretty comparable all round to Liliana of the Veil in this archetype. Lili is a little more consistent and safe however Dack furthers your own game plan significantly more and when he is able to be disruptive he is typically a huge swing.

Kolaghan's Command 7.5

Let us not forget in these kinds of deck that you can turn your offensive hand disruption on your self in a lot of cases and obtain the discard you need. Obviously this isn't the most efficient use of this card nor the most effective way of getting a discard but that isn't at all the point. This is a great stand alone card that works very well in and against most things. If you can play a good interactive card that can act as a backup support card every now and again then you have a more consistent and more powerful deck.

Nahiri, the Harbinger
Nahiri, the Harbinger 8

While four drops are usually a little too steep to be considered good discard outlets this card is so potent and so on theme that it is a well worthy inclusion should you be able to support the colours. Nahiri goes upto 6 loyalty with a +2 on the turn you make her if looting, this makes her incredibly hard to deal with. She also has a rounded and potent array of removal options to help keep you both safe. Lastly she has an ultimate that is easy to reach and which complements what your deck will be trying to do superbly. It should win the game and it is one of the quickest and easiest ultimates to fire off. Probably the best reason to have white mana in your deck!

Smuggler's Copter 7

Only viable if you can crew it shockingly! Another flashy card that is likely just worse than a Merfolk Looter in a lot of the possible builds. The stupid high power level of the card will offset that a bit but still, pretty narrow for these kinds of deck on the whole.

Key to the City
Key to the City 6.5

Ticks a lot of the boxes you want from your discard outlets and has a few more bonuses on top of that. This is expensive to loot with and just as slow as the dorks but a little safer. As just a discard outlet however it is as quick as most and pretty good. The card is also an artifact enabling other potential synergies in the Tinker/Welder camp. Lastly the card greatly powers up threats like Sundering Titan or Wurmcoil Engine that lack evasion. Key to the City offers a lot indeed but it does have some subtle issues. Basically unless you are making good use of the artifact synergy, using the loot, or using the evasion the card is just a bit of a do nothing Putrid Imp kind of thing. Overall this is more all in that it looks but still an OK card whenever you need the outlet and a great one when you are able to fully make use of all the perks in your list.

Memory JarMemory Jar 5.5

This is a bit extreme like Wheel of Fortune and perhaps even more unreliable. The discard effect from this doesn't happen until the end of that turn and it is on the seven new cards not the old hand meaning you need to rawdog the thing you want in the bin or have used a Brainstorm or Vampiric Tutor style thing to set it up. All told this is not the ideal way to try and fill up your yard despite having some utility there, What it is good for is being an alternative Welder / Tinker target with very high power. Only viable in these sorts of decks if you can cheat it in or happen to have a lot of ramp.

Survival of the Fittest

Survival of the Fittest 7

The Entomb that keeps on giving! This is however four mana to tutor a thing up from your deck and put it into the bin, a mere three if you already had the thing you want in question. That is functionality Entomb lacks but then this can't do anything without creatures in hand to start with nor can it find anything that isn't a dork. Like Smuggler's Copter and Recurring Nightmare this really needs a fairly high creature count including a lot at the low end to be all that. Fortunately that is what green decks are good at!

Fauna Shaman 6

Even slower than the Survival despite the same mana costs. Also more liable to get hit with disruption making it relatively unreliable. The trade off for that is a body which can be used to empower other things you might have going on. Useful filler in the right spot as it is a dual function card.
Borderland Explorer

Borderlands Explorer 7

A top rate discard outlet. You get to put a fatty in the bin and replace the card lost with a basic land ensuring you don't screw nor incur card disadvantage. This is very much like Heir of Falkenrath, it has one less toughness and doesn't fly but makes up for this by being card neutral. It can also get your opponent out of a bind if they are screwed which is something to be very aware of.

Satyr Wayfinder 6.5

This is a fairly nice support card should you want creatures in your list. This is pretty unreliable at getting the threat you want in the bin without library manipulation effects. At setting you up it is worse than the Borderlands Explorer however it is much better as a stand alone card. It doesn't cost you a card nor does it help your opponent. It also has the chance to get you useful things in the bin when you don't have things going on in hand. Top rate filler card that has an OK chance of setting you up to cheat in a fatty.

Grapple with the PastGrapple with the Past 6.5

This is another OK filler card like Satyr Wayfinder. It has less setup potential as it mills 3 rather than 4 and it has less value and synergy as it doesn't come on a 1/1 body. The advantage of Grapple is that it scales up very well into the late game where it will get increasingly potent threats. Grapple also isn't locked to finding lands and has some chance of finding useful non-lands in a flood.

Vessel of Nascency 6.5

Sadly for this most of the cheat in effects are instants or sorceries making this a little more awkward. If you are packing Dance of the Dead, Recurring Nightmare and Animate Dead then this will be vastly better than Impulse. If however you are all Exhume, Reanimate and Living Death the value of this drops rather. It is still a fine card, it will find you useful things and hopefully put some other useful things in the bin but it is just on theme filler in that setting rather than something you actively want.


Mox Diamond 8

Mox DiamondGreat burst and fixing as well as potential artifact synergy. If you can find the space in your list and have suitable ways to take advantage of the speed or suitable ways to recover the card disadvantage as well as having the land count to support it then this is one of the best cards going. That is a lot of ifs and so this is a bit of a mixed bag. If you are comfortable with Moxes and like what they do for you then pick these kinds of things quite highly.

Chrome Mox 8

Less good fixing than Diamond and so more commonly seen in the builds with two colours. The big advantage of Chrome is that it is less taxing on your mana base and land count to include within a list than Diamond. One thing to be wary of is how many combo piece cards you have that you almost never want to imprint. This is particularly the case in artifact heavy decks where you simply wont be able to imprint a lot of your cards. One great thing about the card disadvantage Mox in these lists is that you are able to gain so much value out of cheating in a fatty that you are pretty happy to give up cards to get there in the form of Vampiric Tutor, Faithless Looting, the Mox etc. You don't need as much value to support them as you do in other lists.

Dimir SignetTalisman 7.5
Signet 7

While Talisman are functionally better than the Signets the value of these is often as much in the fixing as it is in the mana production in these kinds of decks. As such you just pick the ones that have the most helpful colours on them for what you are doing. This generally means more Signets are played as they have a broader range of colour overlaps. These are great when you are playing impactful four and five drops. They are great when you have artifact synergies going on. They are great when you have a load of 6 and 7 CMC threats within your colour range that these will make hard casting more realistic when things don't go to plan. They are great when you have interactions that require you do do two things at once, say discard and Shallow Grave in response to the reshuffle trigger. The reason you don't see cheat in decks awash with these great cards is that they don't help ramp to your relevant action. Most recursion, cheat in and discard cost three or less mana. These don't tend to speed up your goldfish outside of Sneak Attack decks but they do increase your consistency. They help you power out if not speeding up the combo specifically.

Mana VaultGrim Monolith 8.5
Mana Vault 9

Both a little oppressive in most versions of these decks. They are not always auto includes as you can easily build these decks exclusively with cards that have little or no colourless requirement in the cost. The more colourless in your costs the better these will be for you. The more low colour intensity 6 and 7 drop threats you have the better these will be. The more artifact synergy you have again boosts the value of these cards a lot. Their one shot burst nature really suits Tinker and Welder effects very well. Having these makes you more able to play pricier supporting cards like Time Warp.

Deathrite Shaman

Deathrite Shaman 9

Great fixing with some disruption on top. Generally better than the green mana dorks as you can play this with black mana which is a much more common colour to be based in. Deathrite is a pretty consistent source of mana in these decks with a lot of discard and loot effects on the go. One of the premium all round support dorks for these archetypes. Just cheap, powerful and offering some things you want.

Birds of Paradise 7

Great card that is more consistent than Deathrite Shaman in the main role you want the card to perform - producing any colour of mana. The issue with Birds is that you can only really play it in these decks when you are base or at least heavy green. When green is just a splash it isn't usually worth running green ramp or fixing.

Sylvan Caryatid
Other Green Ramp 6

When Birds of Paradise are not all that the other stuff is obviously far less exciting. Most of it is fine but it all requires you to be heavy green. This rules it out for most styles of the deck. The couple that are base green and want some ramp value the green ramp effects not dissimilar to The Rock or traditional Green Ramp decks.

Orcish Lumberjack 4

Pretty narrow and incredibly polar as cards go. All in combo decks are well suited to take advantage of narrow, polar cards and some flavours of cheat in decks are good examples of ones that might want Orcish Lumberjack. A Sneak Attack deck with a bit of green in it is the best place you would want this card. You can win on turn two with it!


DuressDuress 9
Thoughtsieze 9.5
Inquisition of Kozilek 9

These are your best disruption tools by a fairly decent margin. They are super cheap, they are proactive and most importantly they deal with most of the things that disrupt your combo. If they are holding removal or countermagic you can take that away, see what other options they have and then do your own thing with perfect information and safety. Inquisition is better general disruption than Duress, it has a wider range of targets however Duress hits a much higher % of problem cards. Obviously Thoughtsieze is the premium coverall but the life loss isn't entirely negligible. Another huge perk these cards have over countermagic is that you can use them prior to doing your stuff giving them only one draw to find a solution  but giving you the ability to spend all your mana on going off that turn. Basically, relying on countermagic for protection usually means you are two turns slower to safely go off. Cabal Therapy is totally playable here too should you have good information on what is being played. It has some very nice potential synergies you can build into your deck with it should you wish. Harsh Scrutiny is less what you want. It can't hit your own dorks and generally the best answers to your things are not on the back of creatures.

Spellskite 8
This is another great disruption tool that helps to protect your massive fatties. If you are relying on less well protected threats or more contained threats you want to keep in play like Sheoldred and Elesh Norn then Spellskite is a fantastic card for the job. It offers some early protection against aggression as well as being a top quality card that boosts artifact synergies.

Tanglewire 6.5

Only really playable if you are using the support cards you need for Tinker and Welder. Having cheap artifacts around to tap makes this not really affect you and so very good at buying you the time you need. It is too situational and too likely to hurt you in most other builds. A green creature heavy one could run it but otherwise steer clear.

Fire / Ice 8

Just top quality versatile filler. This will buy you the time you need to win a lot of the time against aggression. It can be the tiny bit of extra disruption you need to close out a hard fight with a control deck. It costs you very little to include and is good in almost all matchups. While you don't want many cards that are not directly helping with your game plan this is a bit too convenient and powerful to pass up on when you have the colours for it.

Cryptic CommandCountermagic

It is nice to have the odd counter in the slower lists as they are such rounded means of protecting and disrupting. As a general rule however the proactive disruption and protection is preferable to the slower reactive blue options. Countermagic slows you down by roughly a turn for every mana it costs. Actual Counterspell means you will be going off one or two turns slower than you would be with a Duress. My favourite counterspell in these lists because of that is Spell Pierce (8), it is hitting what you need it to and it has a very high demand on your opponent given its cost meaning it is a surprisingly hard counter in cube. Force of Will (8.5) is obviously the premium in hardness and cost but you have to have sufficient disposable blue cards in your deck to have it be any good and that is a little harder to do than it sounds with so many combo pieces in your list. Cryptic Command (8) is great if you can cast it but more as a Time Walk or general disruption effect. Trying to use it to force through your combo is only viable against the slowest of decks that apply zero pressure. Remand (7.5), Negate (7.5), and Arcane Denial (8) are among the most commonly seen in these lists as they are relatively cheap and far easier to play in decks lighter on the blue. Mana Leak (7) and Memory Lapse (7) and even Unsubstantiate (7) are likely all better than Actual Counterspell (6.5) as colour intense spells are often pretty uncomfortable. Force Spike (7) is pretty good when you have a quick deck. Although this is a combo archeype it is not a win on the spot kind so cards like Pact of Nagation (3.5) are fairly useless. Three or more mana countermagic really isn't worth looking at if it isn't Cryptic Command. There is diminishing returns on countermagic so avoid playing more than 3, ideally 1 or 2. I would look to run a mix of hand disruption and countermagic if I had the luxury of black and blue. Countermagic isn't as good as the discard for its main role but the countermagic is more rounded and often has additional utility - mostly in the form of card draw.

Go for the ThroatSpot Removal / Burn / Bounce

You want at least one out card in these kinds of decks. You can rely on the effects on some of your fatties to cover you but sometimes you are just hoping to outright win with your combo and really you just want some removal to buy a little bit of time. A lot of red lists will toss in a cheap burn spell, a lot of blue lists will toss in a bounce spell. The odd thing like that goes a very long way with card quality, tutors and recursion effects. Dreadbore (7) and Abrupt Decay (7.5) have a good range and are nicely cheap. There are far too many to go into individually. You only want 1-3 per list, usually on the lower end of that range. The quality of the removal doesn't overly change from archetype to archetype and so the good stuff is the good stuff, we don't need to talk about it specifically for cheat in decks. Burn is nice as it doubles up as planeswalker removal or that last bit of reach to shave a turn off your kill clock. It is typically cheap and at its most effective as disruption early which is when you are most wanting to stall aggression. The best two are likely Arc Trail (8) and Lightning Bolt (8.5) for their high efficiency and blowout potential. The strength of bounce is in the versatility of targets. You can take out any problem card stopping you going off, winning or just living regardless of its size or card type and you can do so for relatively little mana compared to the appropriate hard removal spell for that thing. As you are able to have massive turns where you do loads of powerful things the drawback of bounce only dealing with a thing for a turn is greatly mitigated. Cyclonic Rift (8) is a commonly used removal spell as it is a very cheap cover all that has the potential to be game winning should a game go super long. The more ramp effects you have the more potent it becomes.

PyroclasmMass Removal

If you are on the slower end of things and are not making use of many support creatures then including a mass removal spell is well worth it. A lot of decks aim to go wide and those can easily beat you even through something like an Emrakul, the Eons Torn. Having a hedge card like a Damnation (6.5) is great when you have tutors, card quality and potentially discard outlets. It means when you need it you have more effective copies but when you don't it isn't nearly as harmful as it would be in most other lists. Being quite a targetted counter you are generally best with the cheaper ones, Toxic Deluge (7.5), Pyroclasm (6.5) etc.

Finally I will just give some two colour example lists that are fairly stylized. It is rare you will get a deck like any of these in a draft event. The best you should hope for is a mash up of a couple of these lists using only the most appropriate cards from them and often a bunch of other weaker cards just because you have such a narrow range of what will work in your brew! As I was doing these lists I kept on thinking of new example lists I should do so as to high light how the majority of the discussed cards can work but I think another five of these and they would start to merge into one and lose their impact. Suffice it to say that there are an immense number of ways to build these decks across all the colours ranging from mono to all five. The closest looking one to a real draft deck is the Dimir list I used more different cheat in effects with weaker overlap in it. The most common and likely most powerful version is some blend of the Dimir and Rakdos example decks here. Despite so many different builds they are generally all pretty powerful with a whole load of tier one options on offer. Good construction and play counts for way more than optimal directions and cards.

Swan SongOath and Tell (Simic)

25 Spells

Gitaxian Probe

Mystical Tutor
Spell Pierce

Swan Song
Search for Tomorrow

Oath of Druids
Cyclonic Rift

Cyclonic RiftChannel
See Beyond

Moment's Peace
Sylvan Library
Time of Need

Show and Tell
Beast Within

Jace, the Mind Sculptor

Force of Will
Time Warp

Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre
Sylvan LibraryEmrakul, the Eons Torn

15 Lands

Golgari Reanimate

25 Spells

Birds of Paradise
Elves of Deep Shadow
Deathrite Shaman
Traverse the Ulvenwald

Vampiric Tutor
Vessel of Nascency
Collective Brutality
Fauna Shaman / Survival of the Fittest
Wall of Blossoms
Borderlands Explorer
Heir of Falkenrath

Animate Dead
Dance of the Dead
Abrupt Decay
Collective Brutality

Recurring Nightmare
Liliana of the Veil
Eternal Witness

Champion of Rhonas

Grave TitanThragtusk

Grave Titan

Sheoldred, the Whispering One
Hornet Queen

Craterhoof Behemoth

15 Lands

A Dimir Crossover Build

Chrome Mox

Enclave Cryptologist

Force Spike
Cabal Therapy

Baleful Strix
Lim-Dul's Vault
Collective Brutality
Demonic Tutor

Shallow Grave
Jace, Vryn's Prodigy

Talisman of Dominance
Corpse DanceDragon's Breath

Corpse Dance
Liliana of the Veil
Toxic Deluge
Show and Tell

Thirst for Knowledge / Frantic Search

Emrakul, the Eons Torn
Ulamog, the Ceaseless Hunger

14 Lands

Tinker Welder Soldier Sailor (Izzet)

Serum Visions25 Spells

Mox Diamond

Goblin Welder
Chromatic Star
Serum Visions

Faithless Looting
Spell Pierce
Renegade Map

Key to the City
Izzet Signet
Lightning Greaves
Arcane Denial

Daretti, Scrap SavantFire / Ice

Dack Fayden

Daretti, Scrap Savant

Treasure Cruise

Combustible Gearhulk
Wurmcoil Engine
Myr Battlesphere
Inkwell Leviathan

Treasure Cruise15 Lands

Sneaky Dance (Rakdos)

25 Spells

Chrome Mox

Faithless Looting
Fatal Push

Vampiric Tutor

Collective Brutality
Tormenting Voice
Night's WhisperShallow Grave
Goryo's Vengeance

Demonic Tutor
Talisman of Indulgence
Night's Whisper
Heir of Falkenrath

Corpse Dance
Kolaghan's Command
Liliana of the Veil

Sneak Attack

Emrakul, the Eons Torn
Borborygmos Enraged
Worldspine Wurm
Ulamog, The Infinite Gyre

15 Lands

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