Monday 13 February 2012

Heads up cube deck analysis: Part 2 - BW pox

Pox This is a deck I build to test as many of the Dark Ascension cards as I could cram into a single Archetype. It is also a reasonable example of how the black based pox style decks look. I mention this archetype lots as it is highly versatile, powerful, fun and different to play. When the archetype first reared its head in constructed it was known as Pox as that was the main card in the deck. Pox is still powerful but also very hard to engineer compared to the alternatives and now resides in the B cube. Death Cloud has taken the spotlight for being the most powerful disruption effect in these decks and so they should probably be called cloud decks even though they work more like the Pox decks of old than the new Cloud decks in modern.

Death Cloud

The aim of the deck is to stop the other deck from getting going with a small amount of early disruption which is then followed up with powerful symmetrical sacrifice effects to try and lock your opponent out of the game while you make threats that cope well with the sacrificing. Generally it is a combination of cards that are good to discard, produce multiple permanents, accelerate mana, cost very little or offer effects when sacrificed. With disparate threats and many of your spells also damaging your decks ability to do much it is a slow deck that grinds down an opponent while slowly pulling ahead. Here is my list;

25 Spells

Chrome Mox
Mana Crypt

Diregraf Ghoul
Carrion Feeder
Tragic Slip
Cabal Therapy
Inquisition of Kozilek

Stoneforge Mystic
Doom Blade
Black Cat
Orzhov Signet

Loxodon Warhammer
Lingering Souls
Liliana of the Veil
Geralf's Messenger

Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Braids, Cabal Minion

Death Cloud

15 Land

Gravecrawler8 Swamp
Godless Shrine
Marsh Flats
Caves of Koilos
Orzhov Basilica
Flagstones of Trokair
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth

Other Considerd Cards

Tidehollow Sculler
Dark Ritual + Yawgmoth's Will

The main card I was testing was Gravecrawler as I felt it had the most potential to become a cube mainstay and allow new archetypes to evolve. For this reason I threw in a whole bunch of one mana zombies as they are cheap threats and good sacrificial permanents as well as triggering the Crawler. Carrion Feeder is fantastic with Crawler and Bloodghast, and Sarcomancy is one mana for two permanents, albeit you are only able to sacrifice one of them to all the effects bar Smokestack. Going in this direction rather than heavier discard or more ramp is consistent and offers better early tempo but will reduce the late game power of the build. Not being able to play many expensive cards anyway this is not a big price etc pay as the late game options are not vast for these decks.

Tragic Slip impressed me on its first outing and seems to be comparable to Disfigure in usefulness. Most of the time the two cards would have done the same thing, once the Slip required a suboptimal play to become useful and once it killed a Titan pleasing me greatly. The Black Cat also impressed me and will likely remain an A cube option for black. Being a zombie is a nice bonus, as is the synergy with sacrifice effects. As a defensive monster is where the Cat was most impressive as it really disrupted both early and mid-game attacks. Lingering Souls was outstanding but not quite in the way I expect. I thought I would be pitching the card for efficient flashback costs but I always found myself wanting to cast it twice and have a load of flying men to win me the game. This makes it more of a gold card but still seemingly of enough  power to retain its A cube slot.

Geralf's MessengerGeralf's Messenger is harder to assess the strength of. His coming into play tapped is really significant and greatly reduces his power. Casting him was no problem in this deck but it still an issue with the card and means even if he is good when he is played that won't happen all that much. Once in play he was never the target of removal or really even blocked which meant he did lots of damage but didn't impact the game much beyond that. It is much clearer now that this card can only be used in aggressive strategies or as a sacrificial body for which it is a bit on the pricey side. Typically I never saw Sorin or the Crawler so cannot really offer any feedback on them. At least I am still confident enough in both of their power levels to be able to not worry about them taking up space in the cube.

While still building the deck I felt I needed a little more life gain and a little more card advantage so as to be able to survive the sacrificing effects. I already had included Skullclamp in the build but basically nothing else on either front excepting Sorin. Having already splashed white for Sorin, Vindicate and Lingering Souls I was pretty happy to include a Stoneforge Mystic to increase the redundancy on my Clamp. This also made it much better to run a life gaining equipment as it enhances the use of the Mystic, solved another concern for my deck and also turned my weak threats into much more significant ones. It is a bit clunky but Loxodon Warhammer fit the bill in the absence of Jitte.

The Orzhov Signet was the worst card in the deck by a mile and was a real pain in how it provided its mana. Although I didn't have mana issues it should almost certainly just been another land. I generally feel these decks need some targetted discard to be viable as it really enhances the power of your sacrifice and non-targetted discard effects and gets you through the scary early turns much better than generic 2/2 monsters will. I played a minimal package of Therapy and Inquisition which would have been much bigger without the high zombie count.

There were many cards I wanted to play but could not find room for once the core of the deck was in place and I had added the cards I wanted to test and plugged the remaining holes. Sinkhole is just fantastic synergy with the sacrifice effects and adds some redundancy to Smallpox. It compliments them much like the targetted discard compliments Liliana. Against decks without alternate mana sources the Sinkhole is too good not to include but against Zoo and Big Red with mana critters and artifact mana respectively it felt like Sinkhole would not be buying me enough time to warrant a slot. Sknirender and Tidehollow sculler are both just reasonably good all round monsters that have reasonable synergy with what the deck is doing in addition to both being the cherished zombie type. With these both being filler cards and the deck tight on space I was not distraught leaving them out. Bitterblossom has great synergy but is just too slow really and the life loss can start to be a problem for the deck. Lingering Souls seems better in the deck despite only taking the Bitterblossom's slot on this occasion for being new.

Dark Ritual and Yawmoth's Will add a lot of extra oomph to the deck but reduce the consistency. It felt like I had to chose between the Will and associated cards or the Stoneforge and her package. The latter solved more of the decks issues and seems the better choice in the creature heavy builds. The deck worked fine and went 1-1 being able to defeat Zoo in the way the deck should operate but not having enough speed to deny Big Red the chance to make fearsome threats for which the deck did not have enough power or late game cards to recover from. The deck may be build or tuned in a number of different ways so as to be able to beat a wide selection of match ups, typically however it struggles against any deck heavily using artifacts and decks playing lots of burn. Tuning the deck to cope with those strategies is less effective, although not pointless, and will tend to be more harmful to the decks success in other match ups. Cards like Nevinyrral's Disk start to look useful despite being really slow and clunky, or Zuran Orb which is near dead against most control and combo decks.

Mostly the article is to show the kind of deck I mean when I talk about Pox style decks or Death Cloud decks as I so often do, rather than to show off a great example of deck building or a really exciting new build. The opportunity to evaluate some of the new cards was also good from which I would say Black Cat, Tragic Slip and Lingering Souls all deserve a small bump up to the ratings I offered them in my initial set review. While I did not draw the Gravecrawler I was able to appreciate how much I wanted to draw him in the context of a deck built to showcase him well in one of the two main archetypes in which he might feature. Outside of starting hands he was not a card I was ever desperate to draw and suspect his rating may slightly slip to a 3.5 but the jury is still out for now.

Thursday 9 February 2012

Heads up cube deck analysis: Part 1 - Elves

Edric, Spymaster of Trest
I am trying to cover as much as possible and, still having not finished the rather culled A cube reviews I am trying to play some classic decks that are based around B cube cards. This will allow me to touch upon some of the most powerful cards in magic that only really fit into one deck. These cards are worth of mention but if I ever get round to reviewing them it will be a long way off. Seeing them in context tends to be more useful any way. So, with that in mind and having done goblins previously I did elves as one of my two decks in this heads up gentleman's cube. I also quite wanted to try out Edric, Spymaster of Trest as he has seemed powerful thus far in less well suited decks.

Elves has been around since the dawn of my cube and is unlike any other deck really. It is somewhere between agro and combo and may be built with an emphasis on either aspect. Without disruption elves is one of the most powerful creature decks as it snowballs out of control very fast. While not as fast as affinity it will quickly out power the agro artifact decks. It is still a very fast deck and highly consistent on top of this. Elves does have some major Achilles heals, mainly that it suffers savagely to mass removal, particularly red mass removal. Elves also typically struggle with fliers as the various archer type elf cards are way to weak and narrow to include in most elf decks. The mass removal is such a problem with only green and blue lacking it in their colours. Most elves are cheap and make mana or more elves, all of which die and leave you with nothing in hand or play to a single mass removal effect. Not only does mass removal kill all your threats they kill most of your mana too. Without haste or burn elves cannot do much to affect the other player, even if they have held back cards, after mass removal. Elves is also an auto loss to goblins or any deck that plays a Goblin Sharp Shooter, although the two classic tribal titans have not crossed paths since Beast Within has arrived for green.

A weakness to mass removal is a necessary balance on elves which tend to auto win against unprepared decks due to their insane power left unchecked. Elves may be built to reasonably have a chance against mass removal which leaves a fairly balanced deck although best when not scouted or known. The version I have built is not especially standard as I was testing several new cards and ended up building a very midrange elf deck that was neither pure agro or pure combo. My match ups were to be big red and zoo. Here is the list;

Priest of Titania
25 Spells

Wirewood Symbiote
Llanowar Elves
Fyndhorn Elves
Jogara Treespeaker
Arbour Elf
Heritage Druid
Quirion Ranger

Wirewood Hivemaster
Priest of Titania
Rofellos, Llanowar Emissary
Elvish Visionary
Wirewood Herald
Viridian Emissary

Viridian Shaman
Caller of the Claw
Wood Elves
Elvish Archdruid
Edric, Spymaster of Trest

Birthing Pod
Garruk Wildspeaker
Sylvan Messenger

Deranged Hermit
Green Sun's Zenith
Chancellor of the Tangle

15 Land

9 Forest
Gaea's CradleTreetop Village
Tropical Island
Misty Rainforest
Breeding Pool
Gaea's Cradle

Other Considered Cards

Ezuri, Renegade Leader
Beast Within
Elvish Scrapper
Primal Command
Dryad Arbor

I misconstructed my deck and should have played Ezuri for sure as I frequently found myself wanting any overrun effect to win the game on the spot and neither of my other two were tutorable. I should probably also have played more in the way of answer cards as I really struggled against certain cards, most notably Inferno Titan. Beast Within would have been fine, as would opposition. Primal Command doesn't deal with the Titan but it deals with many other problem cards and serves some additional functions in the deck adding a great deal to your longevity. While some of these changes would add a lot to the late game they would seriously hamper early game consistency. Playing against a big red deck I was certain to be facing cheap mass removal and thus early consistency is not as important as late game action. I should have cut Viridian Shaman and two of either a low impact one or two drop elf or a land and played Primal Command and Beast Within instead to cover me better against big red and Eruzi to give the deck some extra punch. Opposition is a bit double blue and I wanted to maximise my forest count for Rofellos and Arbour Elf.

On top of trying out the new Edric I also wanted to see Birthing Pod and Green Sun's Zenith in elves. While Pod has proven its self for the A cube the Zenith has never impressed and elves seems like a place it will be better than most other decks. Because of Birthing Pod I played Sylvan Messenger which is a very weak card, particularly without any recruiter effect that goblins enjoy. The only other interesting four drop for elves is Chameleon Colossus who is far more powerful than Messengers but offers no synergy. Both Pod and Zenith were excellent in the deck but both was a little greedy as there are subtle counter synergies. Edric was far better than Regal Force, particularly with the Pod, but this doesn't come as much of a surprise as Edric is balanced for multi-player formats. The 'may' option to draw is handy too as 40 card elves is not unknown to deck itself to death. I am sure Edric will stay in the A cube as he has performed very well in all showings.

Wirewood Symbiote
The general idea of the deck is to make a mana elf on turn one followed up by some more serious mana producers so that you have the option of making you whole hand on turn three. A god draw can Overrun for the win on turn three but turn four is far more likely and only then if not disrupted. Serious card advantage is required to power through disruption and this comes in the form of Edric and the various comes into play effect creatures come in to play. Sometimes elf decks make us of Skullclamp for this but unless you have lots of token generation you do not always want to be clamping off your elves. Recycle also saw a lot of play before Regal Force came along but was a little risky. While the card advantage monsters don't offer all that much or even very cost efficiently they are elves and therefore buff the other creatures. They also allow for repeat uses in combination with Wirewood Symbiote, which is the best creature in the elf deck. While he is pretty narrow he is incredibly powerful in the right deck allowing you to ramp your mana production, recur effects and protect your guys from removal. The Symbiote should basically always be the first target for a removal spell.

Wirewood Herald and Caller of the Claw offered me some protection against mass removal, as do a few of the bigger threats which will either bypass the removal like Garruk, or Chancellor against red, or can be held in hand to quickly recover such as Deranged Hermit. Treetop Village is also a help here but not quite as significant. Wirewood Hivemaster is a bit of a luxury who helps power up Gaea's Cradle and Overrun effects but gets in the way of your curving out well. He tends to bait some removal which is nice but unless you suspect the removal it is generally not right to cast him before mana producing elves in the early stages of the game. Tokens are nice to Pod into Symbiote too.

Heritage Druid is also a bit of a luxury card and is infrequently useful due to being so cumbersome to make effective. He does offer a very vague form of haste to your guys but only in mana production, which is best in combo versions but far less appealing for aggressive decks. Having a decent number of one mana 1/1 elves is very useful in the early turns to ramp up most effectively as they may be cast with spare mana to enhance your other mana producing effects. For this reason the one mana luxury and utility elves are far more appealing than those costing more mana.

The weakest cards in the deck were in no particular order Heritage Druid, Viridian Emissary and Shaman, Wirewood Symbiote and probably one of the forests. Predictably elves lost to big red and beat zoo but was good fun to play and informative as to how new cards can feature in various builds.

Friday 3 February 2012

Changes to the Cube

I do this at least once a set but often more times in between as well to keep things fresh and in fitting with the meta game. These changes are primarily due to the release of Dark Ascension but a few other significant cards have also been added. I have paid little attention to colour and number of cards going in or out but there are some cards which are direct replacements as I know the cube cannot justify two slots for such effects. As my culls only go as far as the B cube it only effects drafting and is not at all permanent so I am pretty ruthless in culling and happy to try out fairly obviously weak cards.


Heartbeat of Spring
Krosan Grip

Thopter Foundry

Slaughter Pact
Nezumi Graverobber

Hero of Oxid Ridge
Smash to Smithereens

Frost Titan
Etherium Sculptor
Stroke of Genius
Mystical Tutor

Harm's Way
Brave the Elements
Revoke Existence
Tempered Steel
Puresteel Paladin

Mind Stone
Flayer Husk


Edric, Spymaster of Trest
Sorin, Lord of Innistrad
Huntsmaster of the Fells / Ravager of the Fells

Master of the Wild Hunt
Scavenging Ooze
Strangleroot Geist
Crushing Vines (replacing Krosan Grip)

Black Cat

Geralf's Messengers
Tragic Slip

Torch Fiend (replacing Smash to Smithereens)
Faithless Looting

Mystic Retrieval
Stormbound Geist

Faith's Shield (replacing Brave the Elements)
Thalia, Guardian of Threben
Lingering Souls
Loyal Cathar

There are more cards I rated for the B cube which I am not yet testing as I don't have all the cards yet and am happy enough with the large quantity of other, far better stuff to be playing with for now. I suspect about half of the new additions to be cut in the next big cull and I wouldn't be surprised to see the return of a few cards I have just now cut such as Pestermite. I'll do an updated cube list at some point and try to work out how to get those flashy link popup images things working for it...

Thursday 2 February 2012

Heads up cube deck analysis: Part 2 - UG control

This deck is not an archetype and was more an experiment. Typically UG control decks have loads of guys and often an Opposition. I wanted to see if I could make a UG version of classic UW control work when built in the same style. While the experiment on this occasion was a success I am fairly confident this deck can't beat any dedicated fast agro deck, even with a bit of tweaking. I think my goblin deck would destroy this almost every single game, and affinity, red deck wins, and both black and white weenie would all give it real trouble. Against slower decks and control decks it felt very powerful and hard to beat.

Sylvan Library
24 Spells

Mox Diamond
Force Spike
Vapour Snag

Sylvan Library
Life from the Loam
Mana Drain
Nature's Lore
Sakura-Tribe Elder

Eternal Witness
Beast Within

Jace, the Mind Sculptor
Garruk Wildspeaker
Cryptic Command
Gifts Ungiven
Nevinyrral's Disk

Primal Command
Meloku the Clouded Mirror

16 Lands

7 Islands
3 Forest
Treetop Village
Misty Rainforest
Tropical Island
Breeding Pool
Flooded Grove
Simic Growth Chamber

Considered Cards

Wall of Roots
Sensei's Divining Top + Trinket Mage and Artifact Lands and/or Zuran Orb
Trygon Predator
Time Warp

The deck was themed around Life from the Loam. It has synergy in particular with Foil, Sylvan Library (to remove the chaff on top of library), Exploration, Gifts Ungiven and Forbid. Much of the deck is based around  being able to get lots of lands in to play so as to have loads of power and options in the mid game. This also gives you the ability to mess around with Life from the Loam to pull further ahead while still making things and/or holding counter magic. I felt like I may be land light at 16 land and with few cheap cantrip spells but the deck was very consistent over the few games it played. I had no access to Force of Will or Snapcaster as my opponent used them which I am sure I would have found room for if I had the option. I was perfectly happy with the alternatives used in this build and felt like I got a much better deal on the power blue cards over all.

The last cards I put in were not the weakest as such, they were used to iron out weaknesses in the build. Force Spike was the last card and was always going to be a one mana spell as this deck has a really high curve. I wanted it for being one mana rather than to deal with specific problems as so the Spike seemed like the most all round one mana disruption card. Spell Pierce or Spell Snare, even Disrupt or Mental Misstep were the alternatives and while being very effective at some things are just not as frequently castable.

The Disk is weak and vulnerable but the only mass removal available to me and so seemed an ugly necessity. Meloku is also a bit clunky and slow but as the deck lacked win conditions and he has reasonable synergy with exploration and is also able to hold of attacks fairly well he fitted the bill on enough accounts. Primal Command is an incredibly powerful green control card offering lots of utility and a decent out in a number of situations. The main reason I include the card as lots of draw and dredge in a 40 card deck either deck you or runs you out of the right answers and win conditions. Having a Primal Command and a Timetwister with Witness to get them back makes me happy to dredge with reckless abandon.

Vapor Snag
Vapour Snag was the star card of the deck. It was added to the cube to increase the cheap count of blue spells that work well with Snapcaster Mage. Despite never thinking Unsummon was worthy of a cube slot the Snag has seen lots more play than anticipated since its addition and turns up without Snapcaster all the time, such as this deck. If you don't want to have card advantage issues in the cube you can easily make that the case for your deck. If that is the case then cheap cards like Snag are exactly what you want. Lots happen in the early turns and so viable decks need stuff to be getting on with. Green and blue are not spoilt for diversity on one mana cards, you can either have card quality spells, dorks that tap for mana or situational counter magic. I had already invested lots of slots in the deck to acceleration, counter and card quality and filling out with these things in the one slot as well would clog the deck more and not offer new options to the deck. Vapour Snag is a effectively a very powerful removal spell until the point at which they stop curving out, by which point I am far less afraid of the earlier threats. People will play around cards like Cryptic command but they cannot afford to do so nearly as often against the cheaper spells.

If I were playing against different decks the whole construction would have been very different. If I was playing against an aggressive red deck I would have had a Zuran Orb and therefore probably also some other cards that go well with it. I would have also played more walls against any sort of aggressive decks, Both Roots and Blossoms. Cards like Timetwister

Rock and blue/green decks are the most spoilt for choice in the cube and there are huge numbers of cards that would have been fine in the deck. I pulled out many when building, two of the last on the short list that didn't make it were Trygon Predator and Time Warp. Taking extra turns is always good but I was already very full on five drops and lacked much beyond Sylvan Library to smooth out early draws. The Predator just felt like he did lots of different things for me being a great body and a useful effect. I wanted to be creature light and could deal with artifacts and enchantments well enough as it was so left him out in the end for cards with more direct uses and applications.The deck was a bit different, good fun to play as well as interesting and interactive. I therefore rate this highly as a deck even if it is obviously weak to certain things as good games are what it is all about.

Wednesday 1 February 2012

Heads up cube deck analysis: Part 1 - Goblins

I did a gentleman's constructed heads up cube and am going to analyse both decks a little. In the constructed formats in the cube we allow all cards in the A, B and C cube to be used which for all intents and purposes is a single copy of every card ever printed. Goblins has a lot of history in my cube and has been a tier one deck since it all began. I have now cut all the major goblin deck only cards to the B cube to make drafting more fun with the A cube. I feel as if the first deck analysis should be for the goblins as so many of its cards have not been featured yet in reviews due to being in the B cube, yet it is one of the most played archetypes (historically). The first cube I ever played was Sam Gommersall's and Richard Moore's which they built after playing with some American guys cube rumoured to be one of the very first. In their cube blue accounted for nearly half the cards, almost all of which said "draw" in them. This was great fun but I wanted to be able to smash face with dorks too and so built my own cube. This was in Mirrodin block and as such the only viable aggressive archetypes were classic white weenie and red deck wins, elves, suicide black, affinity and of course goblins. Generally speaking goblins would beat all the other creature decks although both red deck wins and affinity could just out tempo them and win on occasion. Goblins was the first deck to have an aggressive theme and be able to gain card advantage from its creatures giving it another edge over the other decks.

I fondly remember an epic rotissary of the whole cube with lots of people where there were only a few cards left at the end. We had all basically finished our decks and side boards and were starting to find it hard to make useful picks. We decided to call it a day when a cheeky Welshman asked politely if anyone minded terribly if he were to just take all of the few remaining cards. No one could see anything of use to any ones decks either for or against left in the small pile and so happily let him have his way. Almost everyone was drafting some silly combo doing incredibly powerful things very quickly, I seem to recall only one person playing control. Anyway, the Welshman returned having discarded his Recurring Nightmare deck now brandishing a goblin deck salvaged from the dregs. Needless to say he promptly destroyed everyone and was suitably smug...

Here is the final list of the deck I played:


24 Spells

Lightening Bolt
Aether Vial
Mogg Raider
Skirk Prospector
Goblin Guide
Goblin Lackey
Mogg Fanatic

Warren Instigator
Goblin Recruiter
Goblin Piledriver
Tin-Street Hooligan
Ember Hauler

Chaos Warp
Goblin Warchief
Goblin Chieftain
Goblin Matron
Goblin Sharpshooter
Gempalm Incinerator

Birthing Pod
Goblin Goon
Goblin Ringleader

Kikki-Jikki Mirror Breaker
Siege-Gang Commander

16 Land

Stomping Ground
Kessig Wolf Run
Wooded Foothills
Raging Ravine
11 Mountains

Other cards considered

Extra Land
Goblin Sledder
Boggart Ram-Gang
Inferno Titan
Squee + Survival of the Fittest

In the gentleman's head up cube you tend to have a pretty strong idea about what you will be facing. Having only two decks that you need to beat makes it reasonably important to bare in mind while constructing. I was going to be facing a white control deck with a splash of black and a blue black big men control deck. I figured the blue black thing would be more aggressive than it turned out to be and ended up losing to that deck even though I was way more scared of the white wrath.dec match up.

I wanted to play Birthing Pod in the deck as it has such good synergy with the deck and is very easy to incorporate. Because of this I added some utility lands with the other green lands I was running as I was facing slower decks. Because of the Birthing Pod I felt I had to have at least two four drops and two five drops. I also quite wanted a six drop just to power up the Pod even more but ultimately felt I would end up with way to may awful draws with a curve that high. Kikki-Jikki and Goon are both cards I was playing because of the Pod, in other versions these may easily get cut.

Chaos Warp was one of the last cards to go in along with Goblin Guide. The Guide is a great card but doesn't really have much synergy with the deck beyond being a goblin. It was probably right to play the Guide over the Sledder based on my match ups but had they been more creature heavy then the Sledder would probably be better. The Chaos Warp was just a cover all out card designed to deal with horrors like Wurmcoil

Goblins is not the fastest agro deck and is vulnerable to big tempo loses early game. Goblins is a little like and elf deck in this regard as left at all unchecked they will quickly snowball out of control. You can fill goblins full of Seething Song, Mox and other burst cards as most of the time you can get the card advantage back with Ringleader or Recruiter. These builds of goblins can have god starts and act a little more like an affinity deck but I prefer to play other versions of goblins with more consistency. Even verses control goblins does not need to win quickly. With my build I am never likely to be killing them before they can Wrath/Judge/Damn the board clean of all my little green men. This means I have to play a somewhat conservative game always playing around the global removal. Pod and Vial help greatly in this regard both bypassing counter magic for the key cards and evading the mass removal themselves.

Beyond these minor meta specific and build specific aspects the core of my deck is very standard goblins. The Lackey and the Instigator for serious early threats and great mana efficiency. The Raider and the Prospector for trickery and synergy with other cards. The two goblin lords are both excellent and prime targets for removal spells, you can even squeeze in more but two seems optimal, especially as these two are notably better than the other options. A very high number of goblin cards that double up as removal spells really help you attain card advantage in a number of ways, have more consistent draws and apply more pressure generally. Matron, Recruiter and Ringleader form the basis of the goblin card advantage, combo and tutor options and make the deck even harder to play, recruiter in particular is one of the most difficult cards in magic. Finally Piledriver, the last of the core goblins who performs no specific role in the deck and instead just kills people.

Well, that's cube goblins. An easy deck to draft, a hard deck to play, even by cube standards and that says a lot. The deck does feel like you are playing goblins from any format you chose to and has great nostalgia value. It is also one of the very few decks that has been tier one since the start of my cube. I think including the goblin core cards in a cube that is primarily drafted is overall bad for the format. People fear is too much and so occasionally hate a key goblin card which screws anyone drafting it and make it an unpopular deck. The cards being so narrow tend to make them real dud cards in boosters. For beginners to a draft I always return the core goblins cards and recommend they draft them. No deck is really good for beginners in the cube but for the most part goblins is simple to draft and fun, if not easy, to play. As decks go it is also relatively safe from savage miss-play loses.