Saturday 2 March 2013

Revised Reviews: White Creatures

It is time to go over the reviews of the main cube cards. Since I first did them over a year ago I have learned more about the newer cards and the cube metagame has changed a little. I have also added new cards and retired some to the B or C cube for the time being although I will still keep those cards in this list. While touching up the reviews it seems like a good opportunity to employ a more informative rating system which I have outlined here. In short the main rating is the same and in bold at the top, the two aspects that make up that composite rating are below. Power relates to the effects and stats of the card for its mana cost while support relates to the cards utility, synergy with other cards and how well in fits into the cube metagame and archetypes. The first set of reviews I did will remained unchanged in the earlier portions of the blog if any uber keen people want to see what, if anything has been changed.

Steppe LynxSteppe Lynx 1.2
Power: 1.8
Support 1.0

Lynx only really gets a slot because of Plated Geopede which it frequently supports due to the already in place synergy you should have with sac lands for the Geopede. The Lynx is a lower impact monster than Geopede and is far worse when you don't have lands to power it up. Lynx only goes in decks that already play Geopede and obviously it can't go in red deck wins leaving it only really with two archetypes (Boros deck wins and zoo) and it is far from an auto include in either of them. White weenie never really wants to bother playing this little cat as it has no other uses of sac lands and landfall while having a decent selection of other more reliable high power one drops to choose from. You also can't abuse Flagstones of Trokair and this in cube which makes it less exciting. When you do get the god draw of Lynx turn one followed by two sac lands it is good but not actually all that much better than turn one Goblin Guide or Wild Nacatl. Obviously your god draw happens rarely and so it tends to average out about as good as something like a Rakdos Cackler but far less reliable. The fact that it is a horrible defensive monster is not overly relevant but is still slightly to the detriment of the card. 

Savannah Lions

Savannah Lion 1.5 (B cube)
Power 1.5
Support 1.5

The first of the two power one mana dorks printed and now probably the weakest of the aggressive one drops that would still be playable. Lions have no synergy with creature type, offer little utility or excitement and are about as vulnerable as a monster can be. This all being said the card has no drawbacks and does what a lot of decks want complete with redundancy from Elite Vanguard and a host of other decent white agro dorks. White weenie and versions incorporating a splash are all tier one cube decks and lions is always a consideration for these decks. The problem for Lion is that more interesting and situationally better dorks are getting printed all teh time shunting him lower and lower on the pick list. He is still a better all round card than Steppe Lynx but doesn't havea slot while the Lynx presently does. This is because the Lynx is able to excel in certain places which Lions cannot do. Very occasionally the lion is actually better than Isamru simply because you can clamp his useless ass and immediately draw but this goes little way to redeeming his bland nature. 

Student of WarfareStudent of Warfare 3.0
Power: 3.5
Support: 2.6

This little lady is probably the most played of the level up creatures. Although not quite as flexible as figure of destiny which has less mana restrictions, instant level ups and more intermediate stages. The student offers a selection of more powerful bodies from the mana investment and a more incremental way of making the investment allowing for overall more mana efficiency compared to Figure. The student is the better card in a pure white aggressive deck but only slightly and is of less use in other archetypes. Double strike is particularly good with equipment and crusade effects giving her better synergy with what her home archetypes tends to be doing. Her creature types are also useful in combination with other cards, mostly B cube ones however. Being a late game threat student works very well with Ranger of Eos while not harming opening hands like Mikeaus the Lunarch can. 

Mother of RunesMother of Runes 3.5
Power: 3.8
Support 3.3

Mother is very pesky. She can act in so many different ways dependant on your need and is a total bargain at one mana. It is very rare for her to ever attack despite finding her home most frequently in aggressive decks. Her three main uses are; sitting around untapped acting as both a standard barer and a Kira, the Great Glass-Spinner drawing most removal to her and requiring a two for one. Secondly she can act as a wall for non-trample, non-colourless, non-flying monsters which is probably the least exciting of her abilities as it means you are losing. Lastly she helps force damage through when their blockers are all of one colour. Frequently I find myself protecting up a monster prior to equipping it, which allows them to trade one for one with the Mother but ensures you don't lose any tempo from your equips which can be well worth the sacrifice of the mother in certain situations. The only weakness she has is to mass removal that doesn't deal damage, any deck without access to such things will always kill her on sight before she gets online or become very behind in the game. 

Isamaru, Hound of KondaIsamaru, Hound of Konda 2.0
Power: 2.2
Support 1.8

While the only 2/2 for one that is neither situational or complete with a drawback the little doggy is a little lacklustre. With Karakas he is much more interesting and is one of the few legends you are not at all concerned about losing to having it cloned. Decks using cards like this are cutting power in favour of speed, which other than redundancy is all this card really offers. As such he sees basically no play in mid-range or control decks. He does occasionally sneak a spot in agro-control simply for being the best body available for one mana and no other requirements but mostly his homes are white weenie and boros deck wins. Sadly for the little doggy he is suffering the same fate as Savannah Lions in that while he is reliable he is low power and hard to abuse in some way. The Karakas trcikery and extra toughness should see him in the A cube for a while longer but he sees less play than Elite Vanguard now a days as he offers less synergy with his creature type.

Elite VanguardElite Vanguard 1.8
Power: 1.6
Support: 2.0

Only slightly better than Lion from the rather marginal creature types the Vanguard does see much more play. Champion of the Parish is the only card affected by these various types in the A cube but there are many more that get some play from the B and C cube. The champion of the Parish does fit well into all the same decks as the Vanguard and so this synergy is quite relevant. White has a lot of options when it comes to one drop monsters and has the best selection of aggressive dorks to chose from of any colour. The Vanguard would see more play in most other colours than it does in white frequently getting benched for more interesting cards, although rarely before Savannah Lion. Blue has recently got a few quality 1/3 monsters low on the curve and red has more access than ever to good burn for killing one toughness creatures The vanguard is almost always one of the weakest few cards in decks that it now makes the cut in however this speaks more for the overall quality of those decks than the weakness of this card. 


Champion of the ParishChampion of the Parish 2.2
Power 3.0
Support 1.8

While this looks like a situational tribal card it just so happens that there are a lot of humans in the cube and a decent number of small white guys are humans too making him generally pretty playable. He is better than most one drop attackers if you follow him up with just one human and obviously can get a lot better. The god draw with him is rare and he tends to be a weak late game top deck which detract from his early game power. The best comparison for this card is Stromkirk Noble who is the better card but has similar strengths, weaknesses and applications. The Champion is most likely to improve with upcoming sets as there are many token generators that offer humans.  While I have run out of much interesting to say about this card I can assure all readers I shall not be resorting to puns at times like these. Every time you make a pun God kills a kitten. Mostly this guy goes into white weenie and generally finds enough humans in all builds bar the artifact ones to be playable although he is obviously at his best in the human themed decks. GW human decks have been built and seem to keep pace with the rest of the cube but contian loads of narrow and weak cards like Mayor of Avabruck.

Gideon's LawkeeperGideon's Law Keeper 2.0
Power 1.7
Support 2.4

A nice functional reprint with more useful creature types than the previous kithkin version. I really like the utility and redundancy this card offers white weenie players. While it is playable in WX decks they will always tend to be cheap aggressive ones where the activation cost and loss of synergies make the Law Keeper far less appealing. As white weenie is the most powerful archetype from white and makes up the most significant portion of white cards played I am less bothered about a card being limited to it than I would be about a card that is limited to a much more niche archetype. Back to why Law Keeper is good for cheap white agro decks. One drops are great as is removal and of course creatures are great too. Law Keeper is all three of these things. His body is weak but is easily pumped with equipment and global effects and will nibble away when there is nothing better to do. I already mentioned the benefits of his various creature types which go further to making his body useful. The primary function of this card is tapping down dorks which allows you to get attackers through for damage (although not quite as effectively as Mother of Runes) or hold of something horrific. Having to repeatedly sink mana to lock out a scary dork has its downsides but it does scale very well throughout the game always being able to stop any combat from the most obnoxious monster you are facing. Never a must have card but a really good little spell to tweak your deck and plug any holes you might have. 

Serra AvengerSerra Avenger 2.5 
Power 3.2
Support 1.9

An interesting little spell that crops up in a few places. In white weenie it is cheap and very powerful evasive threat than can be easily cheated out early with Aether Vial or simply delayed until a four drop where it frees up more mana than other four drops allowing you to equip or remove something too and really keep on top of the tempo battle. In control decks it is a good cheap threat that you can always cast with healthy counter backup. It was cut from the cube for being a bit niche in white weenie decks and generally worse than Vendilion Clique in the control decks however I am finding more and more that fliers are where it is at. Planeswalkers are an important part of most decks in the cube and control decks have a hard time dealing with them once on the board. Having reasonable redundancy in evasive threats, especially cheap ones, gives a lot of coping power in this area. The best way to combat this increase in the number of flying dorks is to have more of your own and so all decks are trying to pack more fliers than before. Unlike flying, vigilance is not the most exciting of abilities however when put on a 3/3 flying body can a lot of times effectively double your air control. 3/3 is very healthy and kills without dying most things in the cube that cost three or less making it much more value than most other vigilant monsters. A nicely designed card that shines in the current environment in cube.

Stoneforge Mystic
Stoneforge Mystic 4.2

Power 4.4
Support 4.1

This is probably whites best dork, certainly its best low cost one, that I would group in the same band as Snapcaster Mage and Dark Confidant. It is card advantage and a tutor effect that offers its own trickery and tempo boost. Her support rating brings her down a little as you do need to play a couple of equipment with her to make her good which in turn forces you to play a certain number of dorks. Overall she is more restrictive than Snapcaster Mage to play in a deck. Her tap ability works unreasonably well with Batterskull and earns the card a cube spot with her own high power level. Not only can you make instant unkillable uncounterable recursive dorks with her and Batterskill you are getting immense mana effciency from her too which you don't get with other equipment. It is also nice to be able to force valuable equipment past counter magic and sorcery speed removal even when you are not making much or any saving on mana from your equipment. She is highly playable in any white deck with equipment from agro to midrange to control. She has even been played in various combo decks using equipment as part of the combo. 

Kor SkyfisherKor Skyfisher 3.0
Power 2.5
Support 3.6

Another card that seems rather innocuous but that offers great synergy, value and utility. Three is a fantastic toughness in the cube, while two power is the going rate for a monster wishing to be aggressive. Flying is also quite rare in the cube, particularly on cheap monsters. This guy blocks most things of similar cost and can attack pretty freely throughout the game. She can turn on your land tax or allow you to continue to curve out if you miss your 3rd or 4th land drop. She can recur cards with come into play effects like the afor mentioned Stoneforge Mystic. With Aether Vial she is a powerful combat trick or protector for some permanent. Sadly with the loss of Mox Pearl she is not so good for the truly unfair opening turns through getting double mox usage. This is still viable with mox opal or mana crypt or even mox diamond assuming you are going to be land taxing soon but far less common an occurrence than pure and simple Mox Pearl. A card that can round off many decks very nicely overall offering many different angles to exploit. Most commonly she ends up flying in for the win wielding some terrifying Sword of You and Lose. Frequently played in white weenie but also one of the white dorks that more often finds themselves in the white x decks where here single white cost is a bonus and there are more juicy cards to couple with her bounce. I have seen her be highly abusive with both Goblin Bushwhacker and Keldon Marauders in WR, cheeky with Sarcomancy in WB and obnoxious with a selection of blue faeries. 

Ethersworn Canonist
Ethersworn Canonist 2.0 (B cube)
Power 1.9
Support 2.2

The size and cost are all about what they have to be for this to be playable. Even so this card is very vulnerable, most removal spells hit her, as do most mass removal spells. The effect is devastating to some decks but annoying to most and so she works best as a way to slightly disrupt and opponent while applying pressure. If you are relying on the ability in some matchups her vulnerability will be a problem and mean you need to have a reasonable clock. Being pretty poor in combat means she doesn't tend to enhance your clock that much when you are relying on the effect most. The 1W cost is very nice making her playable in almost any aggressive artifact deck as well as more standard white aggressive decks. She is a reliable all round card that provides very effective filler for decks doing certain things. She works very well in the Tempered Steel decks and OK in a few others but will always depend upon what you face as to how well she will perform. Cards like this I am generally biased against and prefer to have in my sideboard rather than look to play main. 

Puresteel PaladinPuresteel Paladin 1.0 (B cube)
Power 2.0
Support 0.4

A very narrow card that only really fits in specific builds of white weenie. That said, in those decks he can be immensely powerful. Both halves of the card compliment each other and are highly useful in their own way. The cantrip from equipment can always be relied on and allows you to happily put cards like Flayer Husk into your deck. At three equipment you can look at putting this guy in your deck, more than that he gets better, more than around five even including some living weapons and your deck starts to get worse however. Card advantage on a reasonably costed body is the favourite thing of the cube agro deck. Even though this guy wont be drawing you many cards even when he is working as intended he has still been of great value. The metalcraft side is not always active and so does not get built around as much. As equipment are all artifacts it is pretty easy to intentionally set about turning it on. If and when you do and you have guys to make and equipment in play you are hard to stop. The tempo gain from free equip costs are vast. Sadly I don't think all that really justifies this guys slot as a permanent A cube card. He is just too narrow, particularly at WW. I shall have to make the most of this guy before my next cull.

Spectral Lynx
Spectral Lynx 2.0 (B cube)
Power 2.5
Support 1.6

I thought I would bring this back to the mix as there are many new black white cards for which this is a good support dork but it didn't last long.  The regenerate is the primary reason this card is good but the protection from green can also be very powerful. If the card was two or more to regenerate it then it would be more about the protection side of the card and I would like it a lot less and not just because it was weaker but because it is more of a direct hoser. Even as it is the card will occasionally single handedly defeat a green mage which isn't much fun. It seems to be the case that Lynx has had his day and has been rather overshadowed. A 2/1 for 2 is the size of most small utility dorks, the pure agro monsters being much meatier. Regenerate is very powerful but is also easy to lose tempo with or get played around. Often you will play less efficiently as you are trying to hold up mana, regardless of whether they have removal which costs you more than you gain from the dork.  The Lynx is a much better control card than it is an aggressive one and offers little synergy to what black white decks are typically doing. Lynx is a little bit random, a little bit small and a little bit awkward to be an auto include in any deck despite it being a very nice all round solid card. For what is essentially a gold card I ask a little more of an A cube card. It is not quite powerful enough without the protection effect being on as it were and so you never want it main, only to bring in against green mages which again, is not enough for A cube material.

Knight of MeadowgrainKnight of Meadowgrain 2.0
Power 2.4
Suppot 1.8

I continually cut this card only to find it back in the cube shortly after added by someone else while doing a constructed event. It was the new three mana Ajani that finally made me relent and add this guy in permanently. I was trying to think what the best two drop was in white to be putting counters on and quickly came up with this guy. Certainly other options have better synergy such as Mikeaus ths Lunarch or a greater clock however the humble Knight scales really well with pumping, is solid on its own and is generally hardier than the alternatives which will help against mild removal. Ajani is only one card that only really goes in one deck and is not all that powerful any ways and so should not merit the addition of other cards such as this on its behalf. This means I must explain why it is that people seem to keep adding this guy and why I am wrong to have been cutting it again. To my eyes it is just solid filler which at 1W cost I would be more than happy to have in the A cube as it would be filler in many more archetypes. At WW however it is really limited to white weenie in which it offers no synergy nor fills any required role in the deck. Lots of guys have first strike and do other more useful things and white has very little desire to invest in getting life. If this guy were BB then again it would be a whole different storey as black does actively want to gain life. I was cutting it because I thought it was narrow and unnecessary for white weenie to be viable, which is true but not the whole storey. White weenie is a good and common deck with a reasonably diverse selection of incarnations. You can put all the important synergy cards in for your decks particular bent and still have plenty of slots to fill which you will do based on the power of the cards, the particular role they fulfil (removal, threat etc) and where they are on the curve. White weenie is a deck very important to keep a high creature count in to go with the Crusade effects and equipment and so having a selection of generic but high power filler cards is important in fine tuning the deck. If you have put in all the utility guys you need and the synergic creatures for your deck and just want a two drop creature to round things off then you will chose the two most powerful option. In my cube this would often be something disruptive like Grand Abolisher, Thalia or Ethersworn Canonist which are very weak if not specifically used for their abilities, sometimes they would even be more detrimental than beneficial as the deck was not designed with their effect in mind. Solid all round cards like Knight of Meadowgrain are great in draft and important in giving flexibility to deck design without hurting the average power level of the deck. 

Grand Abolisher
Grand Abolisher 1.6 (B cube)
Power 1.8
Support 1.5

Despite having found a few homes the Grand Abolisher has fallen to the ranks of the B cube through being too much of a sideboard card and not enough of a card to build around yourself. He is not a powerful enough body to really cut the mustard in an agro white deck and therefore needs to be worth it via the ability which can only be known once your opponents decks are known. Thalia has first strike which makes her decent enough to cover for when her ability is doing nothing and allows her to get involved in combat more often and more safely. The extra toughness on this guy does not compare and so along with Spectral Lynx and Ethersworn Canonist he resides in the B cube for being a card you only really want in your sideboard. The one deck he does deserve a maindeck slot in is the GW hate bears deck where the sheer abundance of disruption ensures his worth. It is not quite a tier one deck I think and one with too many narrow cards to be worth including for drafting options in any cube. The disruption on Abolisher does tend to affect most decks however the vast majority of those are not by enough to make him worth it, especially as most of the few decks that need to deal with him can do so very easily. 

Wall of Omens
Wall of Omens 3.5
Power 3.2
Support 4.3

The colour shifted cousin of Wall of Blossoms sees more play than the original green counterpart as it is exactly what blue decks want in addition to the removal it previously utilized in white. Almost any slightly slow white deck will consider throwing in the wall as it a very cost effective way to put the breaks on the agro decks. The vast majority of these slow white decks are also blue although black and red also pair up with white and try to control things. Aggressive creature decks have been getting better and better and this is one of the few offerings that the slower decks have gained to deal with the onslaught of threats. Wall is also never dead which greatly increases its overall appeal. When it is good it is life saving and at its worst it cycles for two which is a perfect spread for a card to have. The Wall in white is much more vulnerable to your own global removal than they are in green but you have not lost much if you do have to wrath your own wall, particularly as they will likely have extra creatures in play to get around the wall. White also has far less proactive two drops than green for slow strategies and many more cards which bounce or flicker things such as this to generate added value.

Knight of the White OrchidKnight of the White Orchid 3.5
Power 3.6
Support 3.4

Despite the WW cost of this guy he sees lots of play even in two colour decks. A 2/2 first strike is a pretty decent body that does well in combat both offensively and defensively. The first strike is enough so that you don't feel really ripped off when you have to cast it without triggering the ability as you do with a Viridian Shaman. In aggressive decks you generally never save this to get a trigger at the cost of curving out well. When you do trigger the effect the card becomes absurd. Not only is it a plains it finds thus being able to colour fix with dual lands but it enters play untapped allowing you to power out even more. There are lots of cards that make activating this far easier such as Kor Skyfisher, Path to Exile and the bounce lands. In control decks the card is primarily good early as late you tend to have more lands and significantly better when you are on the draw as it most easily undoes the loss of tempo inherent to being on the draw. Knight is one of the elite class of monster that offer some powerful effect gaining card advantage and tempo while also being a reasonable body for the cost to be aggressive with. Rarely found not in mono white decks of all shapes and sizes and always one of the first double casting cost two drops to make a deck list. 

Loyal Cathar
Loyal Cathar 2.6

Power 2.5
Support 2.8

One of the nicest filler cards white agro decks have at their disposal. You are never unhappy about over extending  with one of these dorks or that worried about running it out. The vigilance scales very nicely with the ability as it forces them to block it or attack into it, normally with dorks you don't want to fight in combat you just copy what your opponent does with your dorks. If they attack you do, if they sit on defence so do your dorks but you can't here. Although it is no where close to the power level of Strangleroot Geist as the replacement dork is worse not better it is better supported by archetypes and offers some security to those decks which they previously lacked. He has great creature types and finds himself in any tribal deck for being so all round good one his own while still helping out with other cards to make them better. Another reason he is so good is that white often relies on equipment for its late game in agro decks. White has no haste monsters in the cube and takes a while to recover from a Wrath effect however with the Cathar you get immediately equip him up and start laying in thus making their mass removal effects far worse. Even against spot removal he is one of the main targets to equip as you are least bothered 
when they shoot him down. 


Flickerwisp 2.7

Power 2.5
Support 3.0

One of the few decent white three drops on offer that finds homes in both agro and mid range decks as well as the occasional control deck due to an abundance of synergy. It offers evasion and great power to cost ratio which alone wouldn't be enough for a cube slot, particularly with the low toughness. The nifty flicker effect however scales very well with lots of other cards and is fairly decent disruption or tempo in the right situation making it decently powerful and fairly interesting. It is not doing anything specific and so you only want to play it when you know it is good against your opponent or when you have an abundance of comes into play effects to abuse. It gives redundancy to Restoration Angel in some respects and allows you to more reliably build around comes into play effect dorks. In the more agro decks you are much more interested in the evasive power and the ability to remove a blocker for a turn or kill off a token than you are about generating card advantage or having your own synergies with it. The body is fine although far better against some colours than others with red finding it funny and green having nightmares about it. The utility ability really enables you to get tempo out of the card even if it depends on what your opponent is up to which is what agro decks are all about. Over all this card is of a good power level and is decent filler in any deck while being more abusable and dangerous in a few. It is not a commonly played card but is generic enough to improve drafting and deserve an A cube slot. 

Fiend Hunter
Fiend Hunter 1.0 (C Cube)
Power 1.0
Support 1.0

I was expecting this to be a lot better than it actually is. White lacks three drops and has few other cards after Swords to Plowshares and Path to Exile that are good single target removal spells. A 1/3 is a great body, even in a more aggressive deck with equipment or pump available. You don't want the hunter to die and give them back their dork and so more toughness instead of power is fine. The problem with the card seems to be that as a dork the card is nothing special and as a removal spell the card is also somewhat lacking. It is better suited to control decks in principle but has very poor synergy with mass removal as so tends not to see play in those archetypes. Overall the card is not reliable removal despite being able to hit most things, you do not want to target creatures with come into play effects base on the likelihood of this getting killed and giving them extra card advantage. It also doesn't offer you card advantage most of the time, even if you are under no risk of having him killed you probably can't make use of him in combat. The best the card does is act like a weak Man O War that offers a small tempo boost which white can obtain at the same cost on the back of far more useful bodies such as Flickerwisp.

Blade Splicer
Blade Splicer 3.4
Power 3.2
Support 3.5

Having now played with this a good amount I find it much like Kitchen Finks. It is one of the few monsters that fits right in both for agro and for control strategies and is easy to gain tempo and card advantage from simultaneously. In agro it is just an easy to cast dork that gives you great stats for the mana complete with multiple bodies. First strike is powerful and not only scales well as monsters get harder but also scales well with the number of first strikers you have which in many white decks is a lot. She is a well designed card as well as she offers loads of interesting interactions and trickery. You have to be wary of ping if you are relying on the first strike effect as she is easier to kill than the golem token yet able to equally ruin your plans for them. Human is a useful creature type even if artificer and golem are not really for the decks she goes in although I am sure games have been won due to unsuspecting first striking Lodestone Golems. In control decks she is a serious speed bump and also a good planeswalker deterrent. With such good offensive stats so low on the curve you can easily get aggressive to nullify a walker with your control deck. Mostly however she gets you a better two for one than Wall of Omens and does quite a bit more to slow down an assault. The thing that tips her over the top is her synergy with cards like Restoration Angel and Kor Skyfisher that pile up the 3/3 tokens and put things far out of reach for your opponent. 


Mentor of the Meek
Mentor of the Meek 1.5 (B cube)
Power 1.3
Support 1.8

I didn't like this card when it was first spoiled and took quite a while to add it to the cube. The reason for that is a dislike of cards that are costly for their immediate impact on the board ( for which this is basically a grey ogre) in addition to a dislike of cards that require specific events and extra mana to be spent in order to gain benefit from the card. While not an amazing card in the cube it has found better uses in the cube than many other white three drops that have been tried. He is still a body that gets pumped and equipped that can offer reasonable long term card advantage.  The fact that he works with tokens and creatures that have been put into play with an Aether Vial is really useful too as he is less restrictive on your decks build if included. Being a human is nice too. White weenie has only really got Land Tax and equipment to get card advantage and this is a fine card to supplement those more dedicated cards. You do not want to rely on him for this nor base your game on getting value out him, simply include him in your deck at little cost and occasionally get some free cards out of it.     

Aven Mindcensor

Aven Mindcensor 2.0 (B cube)
Power 2.4
Support 1.7

A very pesky critter that was one of was much more of a mainstay when it was first released due to white having far less interesting things in the three slot. While quite a hoser of a card it is a fairly broad and generic hosing that may affect some colours and archetypes more than others but should be annoying for most decks. At its very best this card comes down on turn three in response to someone using a sac land which then wiffs. This makes this card one of the few cheap spells that can bring games to a quick close in cube alongside the likes of Wasteland and Hymn to Tourach (altough not in quite the same power bracket). While not a fantastic body the flying goes a long way to making it useful as more than just disruption. The flash helps in making it better disruption and more effective against and in control decks . While this card can be very potent it can also be very underwhelming and rather depends on what you are facing and how the game plays out as to how powerful it will be. It is not all that easy to engineer a way to abuse it and as such I rarely have this on my short list for decks because I want to know what my cards will do for me and load up on ways of taking full advantage of them. I also typically don't like cards which hose things and while I am happy for it to calm sac lands I am less happy with what it does to the cards which are not symmetrical through the colours. A potentially powerful card that like many of whites good cheap creatures, belongs more in sideboards than maindecks and it therefore not the best kind of card to fill up a cube with. 

Ranger of Eos
Ranger of Eos 2.5 (B cube)
Power 2.2
Support 2.9

A very interesting card that offers a lot of different things. Firstly it is a 3 for 1, secondly it tutors for things and thirdly it is a dork and thus gets the beat on. I am struggling to think of any good comparisons, Ranger is sort of a bigger Trinket Mage but creatures are far narrower than artifacts despite being more abundant and four mana is a world more than three so they end up performing very different roles. Ranger is not the greatest tempo swing as 3/2 is pretty flimsy, especially at 4 mana. A lot of the time the one drops you get are more powerful once in play than Ranger himself. Mostly Ranger finds play in white weenie or Wx agro variations but has been splashed into combo elves and used in other silly creature based combo decks in which one or more of the pieces could be tutored by Ranger. White doesn't have much in the way of card advantage and Ranger offers pretty good value and doesn't suffer as cards like Fact or Fiction do from having no impact on the board. Ranger has come into a dry spell of late in the cube with the addition of Hero of Bladehold and Sublime Archangel to rival him as 4cc dorks. In the decks that play Ranger you want to have your top end spells of immense power and game winning potential, not just nice utility and card advantage spells. Ranger is not a card you care too much about getting killed unlike the Hero or Angel but that is because he is rarely going to be winning you the game in a couple of turns. It is not just superior creatures that stop Ranger gettign as much play as he used to but also the powerful planeswalkers and spells like Armageddon that compete in the four slot. Ranger is one of the better and more powerful cards I have put in the B cube which is testament to the power of the other white 4 mana cards. 

Hero of Bladehold
Hero of Bladehold 2.8
Power 3.5
Support 2.5

Ranger of Eos not only has to compete with power spells like Armageddon and Cataclysm and power walkers like Elspeth but also absolute beasts of creatures like this one. Hero is about the fastest clock you can put on someone for the mana and is very much and answer me now or lose card. Generating tokens is fantastic as it offers value even if she is killed however assuming you cannot give Hero haste you have to give them a whole turn before you get to make any tokens. Because of this I put Hero firmly in the non-utility creatures bracket which contains only the most efficient of beaters such as Tarmogoyf and Abyssal Persecutor. It is a harder role to obtain a cube slot with as most of the time your card is answered before it gets to killing anyone and gains you very little value. Hero of Bladehold is more powerful than Ranger of Eos, it will kill much faster and is a higher tempo boost but is more vulnerable in the sense that it is easier to stop her doing anything of use rather than being easier to kill as she obviously has two more toughness. Against control the Hero usually does nothing but on the occasions it does something it is usually to win the game. Against other tempo dork decks she tends to get gang blocked on her first attack and die but in doing so offers a massive swing to the game in your favour and is usually worth the mana/card.

Academy Rector
Academy Rector 2.2
Power 2.8
Support 1.9

A brilliant combo and utility creature that crops up in decks all over the place. The arrival of Birthing Pod also gave a a huge recent boost to the playability of Rector as having a sacrifice mechanism is really important to make good use of her. Prior to Pod she was found with black for Cabal Therapy and/or Recurring Nightmare. Even when you can't sacrifice her to Tinker up an enchantment on command the threat of what you could get often holds off the attackers. Typically the contenders getting fetched up are Yawgmoth's Bargain, Pernicious Deed or Mirari's Wake however lots of combo decks use expensive enchantments including Sneak Attack, Opalessence, Enduring Renewal, Illusions of Grandeur, Aluren, Cadaverous Bloom and even important yet cheap ones such as Oath of Druids. If you are a combo or control deck and have a number of important or expensive enchantments Rector is a worth consideration, especially if you have good ways to ensure her death. Sadly combo is struggling a lot at the moment and in white Rector is hard to get working. It is basically impossible to usefully include ways of sacrificing her without resorting to other colours and then you have the trouble of singleton formats where the enchantment you want could be in your hand or something. While still a big name in cube Rector is getting very little play in the present meta. 

Sublime ArchangelSublime Archangel 3.9
Power 4.4
Support 3.6

While I have mentioned a reticence to review new additions to the cube, when the cards are so impressive they get played as often as possible it is quite easy to do so and that is very much the case with this Archangel. I am fairly happy describing this as better than Wolfir Silverheart although a very similar kind of card. As with so many of the good cards that cost four or more mana I fully missed this when it was first released and probably dismissed it and just another high quality white four drop that wasn't specific enough to see much play. It turns out it is just so powerful that it doesn't need to be doing anything all that fancy with your deck, it helps to have other dorks to power her up but otherwise she seems to just win games in all kinds of decks. As a four mana 4/3 exalted flier she is pretty good and obviously a lot better than Silverheart is with no other dorks about. When you have say three other dorks on play and you make her the swing in tempo and seriousness of the threat is vast. As with Wolfir, in the situation I have described, you get to immediately take advantage of her and swing in with a bonus +4/+4 on one of your dorks. Sure, the Wolfir allows all your guys to attack but it is a lot more prone to getting blown out with instant speed removal. The following turn you will be able to swing in with an 8/7 flying Angel, perhaps more if you make more dorks. The restriction of only attacking with one guy is not that big of a deal when it is so huge and can be which ever is the most appropriate dork for life link or flying etc. It has been the case that you answer this or you lose in very short order which ranks it up with the elite threats of which it is not only one of the cheapest but also one of the quickest at bringing the game to a close.  The best home for this finisher is in white weenie where you have high dork count typically with low individual power and often token effects to boot. Mother of Runes is also great with the Angel for protection and avoiding chump blockers. Costing four mana makes her significantly more viable in agro decks than cards like Baneslayer which are just too slow to reliably come into play. She has seen play in almost every deck that can support her double white mana cost and also has around about a quarter of its deck as three or less mana dorks. In all of these decks she has been a scary threat and performed well but not quite as well as in white weenie where she is now a mainstay even pipping Elspeth, Knight-Errant to lists although this is due to negative synergies from cards like Thalia, Guardian of Threben. Although much easier to deal with than an Elspeth the Archangel typically ends the game quicker and compared to the creature threats that cost four she is significantly better. Ranger of Eos is looking like he is about to slip from the A cube as there are better ways to get card advantage and much more powerful things to do with four mana. Hero of Bladehold is powerful and looks harder to deal with but this is deceptive. You have longer to deal with him before he has too much impact on the board because he has no effect on the combat of the turn you cast him unlike the Angel. In addition to this Hero has no evasion so is often killed by blockers on his first attack and although you have gained some advantage by this stage it is often not enough to take the game. Sublime Archangel is comfortably whites best four drop dork and is of such high power level that it should be a mainstay in all cubes. She would probably be better as a 3/4 just to make her that bit more resiliant to red removal but given that she is already one of the best threats in the game we need not complain. She feels most like a Hero of Baldehold that got flying and haste thrown in for free. 

Restoration Angel
Restoration Angel 3.0
Power 2.4
Support 3.5

A rather light card in comparison to Hero of Bladehold or Sublime Archangel that is used in a very different way and so don't really compete with each other for slots. Restration Angel is not really a finisher nor is she an agro card. She is played in mid range and control decks where she is more of a convenient, easy and good value thing to get you into the late game. As a 4 mana 3/4 flying instant speed dork she would be pretty playable in a lot of decks, especially with only a single coloured mana requirement. She blocks most things well, is good at keeping planeswalkers in check and is fairly hard to kill. Having flash almost entirely offsets her price tag for control decks and allows you to keep up countermagic at the important times as well. In this respect she is fantastic filler for any control or midrange deck however when you get to make use of the flicker ability she becomes impressively swingy. When you get to fully save one of your dorks from some kind of death or trigger a powerful come into play effect such as that of Blade Splicer she puts you incredibly far ahead, both in tempo and card advantage. She is so good because she is never dead or bad in any situation and has the capacity to be completely blow out game winning when at her best. 

Cloudgoat RangerCloudgoat Ranger 2.5
Power 3.2
Support 2.0

Cool card, great name but sadly not a card with many homes. White weenie is the place of dreams for him with Crusade effects and equipment to abuse the one man army however the five mana cost makes him awkward to include. Typically you want to finish your curve on four in white weenie and having five drops is a sign things have gone a bit awry. He is also up against stiff competition from Elspeth Tirrel and Baneslayer Angel both of which do aspects of what this does wrapped up in nice packages of their own. Ranger is a bit of a middle ground between the two being able to generate a lot of dorks in one go or being able to act as a flying finisher. He is less vulnerable to spot removal than the Angel but more vulnerable to mass removal than Elspeth and so on. He is fine in control decks but rarely sees play for being rather too middle ground and less suitable than other five drops which have very few high premium slots in decks, even control ones. More midrange white creature based decks are cropping up in cube of all colours which means more potential homes for this guy but none have really established themselves as archetypes as yet and so this guy tends to sit on the sidelines watching until we do some low card (just 45 as opposed to the whole cube!) pool booster drafting. In these situations when decks are weaker and less honed he really shines. Value for mana and a variety of uses and synergies all make this worthy cube filler despite low frequency of getting played.  

Baneslayer AngelBaneslayer Angel 4.0
Power 4.5
Support 3.6

Before the arrival of Titans and Wurmcoil Engine Baneslayer was rampant in the cube. Prior to the Angel nothing was so abusively game winning and swingy while being so reasonably costed. The cube was light on spot removal as nothing like Angel threatened games until then which only made her more game winning when she got a slot. She felt like Jitte but good against all decks and not requiring of other cards to be broken. She was frequently picked over other power and given the setup of my cube at the time I don't even think that is wrong. I vividly recall my surprise in being passed a Time Walk 2nd pick in a draft and having my look of disbelief dispelled when the player on my right flashed me the Angel he had taken instead. There are very few monsters that can race a Baneslayer, none of which cost the same, even less monsters that can block it and live to tell the tale and yet less still that can actually kill her. A 10 point life swing on an evasive 5 toughness body is highly impressive. The protection is good flavour but really tedious in reality as so many of the viable candidates to challenge her in the skies can't touch her. Baneslayer was the first of the really really efficiently cost expensive monsters that forced quite a lot of changes to the cube setup and archetypes and sets the bar very nicely now to compare other expensive dorks with. Very few creatures are in the cube that are just beaters and don't offer any extra value. Baneslayer is presently the most expensive of that elite group of super efficient critters. Her winning streak has tailed a little lately however in her window of rampant abuse in the cube she was hands down the card responsible for most wins in the cube (and it was powered at the time) and while long time cube cards like Force Spike probably have more killing blows under their belt than Baneslayer I don't think any card can compete in terms of wins per games played. She hits the table and is either answered there and then or wins the game shortly after 99% of the time. A control staple that winds up in all many of places due to her power and reasonable cost. I remember a Cad Bloom deck I built which looked done at 39 cards so I slung in a Baneslayer Angel as the last card to have an alternate win condition and ended up winning the event without ever once going off, always just making the Angel and riding her to victory. Mmm, riding an angel seems like it would always be towards victory...

Sun TitanSun Titan 1.5
Power 2.8
Suppot 1.0

Of the cycle this was the Titan I earmarked as the most powerful and likely to see most play when first spoiled. It turns out I was the most wrong I could be as it sees less play than all the other colours Titans and is really rather unexciting. It is most comparable to the Primeval Titan as they both put permanents into play. With Sun Titan unless you have a permanent in the bin with a self sacrifice mechanism you run out of good targets rather quickly and are limited in choice of what you can do any way. There are not that many brutal things to do with the recur and with its unreliability it turns out that it is not very exciting compared to the other Titans effects. Vigilance is also pretty useless on a big dork with no evasion or other useful things to go with it and while perhaps better than death touch it certainly won't ever be recurring anything as good as a pair of 2/2s every turn. Sun Titan is a good value big dork but as a win condition he is pretty weak and the value you get out of him often isn't really all that helpful or worth building around. He forces you to play things like Journey to Nowhere just so you have some stuff to get. Basically, as you pay more mana for your cards you want them to stand alone more and require less building around. The engine is neat but on a six mana dork you are just better off killing them with something better than phaffing around getting value. 

Mikaeus, the LunarchMikeaus, the Lunarch 1.5
Power 1.0
Support 2.2

Mikaeus is one of the best scaling monsters you can fetch with Ranger and offers you good utility too. He is a well designed card and offers interesting choices all of the time. Being able to cast him for almost any amount of mana you wish makes him really good at smoothing out your curve although he is not much of a tempo boost if made early on the curve. Human is the best creature type for white guys although not all that relevant. A lot of his strength comes from being able to tap at instant speed allowing you to wait for the most info or the correct time to charge him up or to boost your team. I have yet to see him do all that much in a game as he is vulnerable to mass removal and very slow to become a threat in his own right. The versatility, good design and synergy are enough to keep him around for now despite poor performances thus far. With Ranger of Eos in the B cube at present Mikaeus has lost some of his value but actually gains more from cards like Hellraiser Goblin that it has lost from Ranger.


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