This was written prior to the Theros release and was not put up here due to not knowing if it would be going up elsewhere. Nothing has been changed so a few bits are off the mark however recent pro tour results should make that sort of thing fairly obvious. I will be doing a more up to date review of Theros for cube which will be going up on XtremeTrades site soon.
Theros for Cube
Even though I am only looking at a new set in terms of its application for the cube I still get very excited to see and think about all the new cards and mechanics as a set is being spoiled. Although typically few cards per set are clearly good enough for the cube there are always lots that are borderline. I like to test out as many new cards from a set as possible as it is the only sure way to assess a cards value as well as being a great way to vary the cube and have fun with new mechanics. I also like to keep a copy of each card that could have any use in a cube environment stashed away for unlikely later use so I do tend to take a lot more on from a set than most cubers. In this Theros review I will only talk about cards that are good enough for cube, borderline or that could have some spurious niche application. This means that lots of cards that might be strong in limited or playable in standard simply don't even get mentioned while a few “unplayable” yet unique or exploitable will receive my attentions.
I will give each card a rating out of ten but this will be somewhat of an amalgamated rating. There are just so many things to consider when evaluating a card for an environment beyond its raw power such as how many different archetypes if any there are that would want the card, the synergies it might have with other cards in the format and so on. For me the most telling statistic as to the strength of a card is the number of appearances it has in decks that have a positive win percentage. This way of looking at cards helps to account for the overall playability of the card as well as giving some idea of its power without ruling it out for being something fairly innocuous or a relatively low pick. Good formats have high power and high impact cards as well as good support and synergy cards to bind things together. As such I shall try to give my out of ten rating for cards based on how much successful play I think they would get rather than what pick they would likely be in a booster draft. This means you will occasionally see a first pick limited bomb with lower ratings than
Here is a quick description of what my 1 to 10 ratings imply about a card.
Cards like Sol Ring and Black Lotus, things they have learned from and will not print again and so we shall not see ratings of this magnitude but it is still good to have some relative milestones in place to compare with.
Cards like Jace, the Mind Sculptor, Strip Mine, Umezawa's Jitte and Mana Vault. Widely playable high pick cards that will go in most decks and give a significant boost to the decks results and power. Not every set has cards worthy of a 9 rating and it is unheard of to have more than one per set in recent years.
Cards like Lightning Bolt, Brainstorm, Dark Ritual and Baneslayer Angel. Staple cards that rarely go unplayed and wind up in lots of different decks.
Cards like Necropotence, Goblin Guide and Rofellos. Archetypal staples that are amazing in a couple of strong archetypes but not suitable for others or just high power solid all rounders such as Blade Splicer.
Cards like Viridian Shaman, Boomerang and Elite Vanguard that are useful in the right deck but are not especially high power level relative to the rest of the cube. Also cards like Huntsmaster of the Fells who is high power level but not a mainstay in any particular archetypes. Cards that are comfortably cube worthy but are not overly missed when not included.
Cards like Hero of Oxid Ridge and Myr Retriever that are boarder line for various different reasons. Some like the Hero are outclassed in the role they perform despite being high power themselves and would get a cube slot if cards like Hellrider were not around. Cards like the Myr are niche and require sufficient support cards to be worthwhile. Some 5/10 cards will reside in the cube but most will be sat in reserve.
Cards like Battlegrace Angel that are strong but do nothing particularly new or exciting while also being outclassed. These cards will all be sat in reserve and are unlikely to be rotated in very often.
Interesting cards that are not powerful enough or too much effort to really abuse. These cards will sit in reserve and never really get rotated into the main cube. Typically I wont even bother going out of my way to collect the cards of this rating or lower.
I can't think of a linguistic way to distinguish these cards from the 1/10 and 3/10 ones beyond saying, rather unhelpfully and rather pointlessly, that they are somewhere in between those two descriptions. Often these are low powered tribal support cards.
Cards that are in reality totally unplayable or undesirable however have some unique aspect or potential synergy I can't bring myself to disregard on the off chance they print sufficient complementary cards that the 1/10 card in question becomes useful.
Cards that I am not going to bother picking up as they have no place in any kind of cube. I tend to only give this rating when a card might appear playable but for whatever reason I deem it not to be. Cards receiving no mention can be assumed to have a 0/10 rating on my scale.
Battlewise Valour 2/10
A fine little combat trick and heroic trigger but slightly too costly and unexciting to really make a cube.
Cavalry Pegasus 0/10
Much as I am the optimist and even with a heavy human contingent complete with minor theme in my cube this little fellow is not sufficiently powerful on its own or in the effect it provides to merit any sort of consideration.
Celestial Archon 2/10
This isn't so bad it would never get any play in a cube as meaty fliers tend to get it done, but it is significantly less interesting than a wide range of other fat white fliers that are on offer. I love the bestow mechanic and think it is a great way to make auras a more playable aspect of Magic however their costing, while making them great for limited, makes them fairly unplayable in cube on the whole.
Chained to the Rocks 4/10
Power wise this is not that far behind Path to Exile. Land and enchantment removal is not that abundant in most cubes and it is so cheap compared to Oblivion Ring that you are not going to be that put out if they do kill it as you will have likely gained a lot of tempo from the card already. Slightly dangerous against certain mass removal effects such as Upheaval and instant enchantment removal for surprise blockers but this is something you are more than happy to accept on one mana removal with no target restrictions and which exiles. Giving them no immediate perk such as a land or a pile of life makes this a far better tempo card in many situations as well. Path to Exile is pointless on the turn one Llanowar Elf and Swords to Plowshares can be troublesome in a race. Sorcery speed does reduce the trickery potential, as does being only able to target opposing creatures but it is the need of your own mountain that is why this gets a fairly low rating. It makes the cards slightly less powerful as you won't always be able to play it but it makes the card vastly less playable as you need to be in red and white rather than just white which is instantly far fewer different decks. I will test this out in the cube but suspect it will not see enough play due to its colour restrictions to deserve a place.
Dauntless Onslaught 1/10
Too expensive and situational for a combat trick in the cube but a great heroic enabler and limited card.
Elspeth, Sun's Champion 7/10
This is a lot of planeswalker but then for six mana it really has to be. She has three powerful, diverse, yet synergic abilities that lead to an interesting and strong card. Making a small ground army and growing in loyalty at the same time will be too much for most decks to cope with, it will throw on the breaks for aggressive strategies and provide a huge tempo swing or just overwhelm control players. With a good starting loyalty count, the ability to make a defensive ground army and the ability to wrath away all larger dorks that might be poised to fly over or trample through Elspeth is one of the safest planeswalkers you can flop onto the battlefield. Being able to use her wrath ability right away without losing her also greatly increases the utility of the card. Her ultimate should win most games like most other ultimates yet shouldn't be a big part of why the card is good. Sadly at six mana she is a little too top end for agro decks to have much use for her and quality six drops are easy to come by. With planeswalkers being harder to deal with than creatures and because of her utility beyond simply offering card advantage over time and a threat I think she can safely take the crown as the best six drop white permanent. She is also so similar to Elspeth Tirrel that given the option of both you will tend to end up playing which ever fits the curve best I suspect.
Evangel of Heliod 1/10
Potential to abuse but in reality an over costed unpredictable token maker that falls very short when compared to the larger Elspeth's, Captain of the Watch and Cloudgoat Ranger.
Fabled Hero 1/10
White now has many options on 2/2 double striking three drops and this is close to the bottom of the pile. It is simply that it requires too much support and it is actually not that exciting should you have the right cards to enhance it. In a dedicated heroic deck it might be quite nice but the odds on that being even close to cube viable are slim.
Favoured Hoplite 1/10
Another one for the never playable except in a heroic themed “fun” deck pile.
Gift of Immortality 1/10
A cute little card but a bit of a faff to be worth inclusion in a cube. It is not an especially abusable card as there is a delay on the returning of the various parts to play.
Glare of Heresy 4/10
This is a very high power removal spell but it is narrow in the other way a card can be narrow from Chained to the Rocks. Rather than needing to play with mountains you need to be playing against white permanents for this to do anything. I object to including sideboard only cards that hose specific colours in my cube, it feels like wasted slots. As such this would only be worthy of a slot if there was a sufficient mass of cards like Cloudchaser Kestrel already in the cube to facilitate the use of this card against any deck.
God's Willing 5/10
Scry is one of my all time favourite effects as it greatly reduces the chances of mana screw and flood, particularly when on cheap cards like this. Brave the Elements and Harm's Way both do most of what this does while offering a bit more value or utility as a trick, but then they do nothing to increase the overall consistency of the deck. Although most cubes support white weenie archetypes they cannot really support more than a couple of these kinds of card and so it will really be a matter of preference which of the comparable contenders, if any, are given slots.
Heliod, God of the Sun 1/10
Without a devotion to white of five or more this is a massive do nothing in cube until super late game top deck mode. Disrupting devotion will not be all that hard and will make this a fairly unexciting, unreliable threat. As a way of making tokens you can do a great deal better with spells and planeswalkers given the huge cost attached to Heliod's ability. Vigilance is one of the less exciting abilities you can give to your dorks as well, it is not that relevant and is certainly not worth either a card or four mana, let alone both. Overall this is an interesting card but really doesn't offer much to a cube.
Hundred-Handed One 3/10
This is a good all round monster that offers good scaling, high power and a bit of utility. Unfortunately it is not quite enough of these things to earn it a cube slot. White has so many really impressive four drops that this is a bit of a joke without the monstrous ability which is both demanding on mana and just gives you a great defensive dork rather than one that ends the game or generates value. As such I don't see this finding a home in many cubes despite his cool flavour.
Leonin Snarecaster 2/10
No as good as the detain options for the same cost and Azorius Arrester is not exactly a power house. White has few aggressive cheap creatures with come into play effects yet lots of flicker abilities it would like to abuse which does make this low powered style of card more interesting, just not quite enough.
Phalanx Leader 2/10
This is the kind of card that is abusable enough to deserve attention. While presently it would be very weak in my cube due to insufficient spells to target it with there exist the support cards to make this powerful in the right deck such as Mutagenic Growth, Travel Preparations and Seeds of Strength plus all the new tailored ones from Theros. On its own it is not going to be worth going to the trouble of adding enough support cards to make it playable however should a critical mass of this kind of card see print then I'll be glad I set one aside. Even if it is never worth the effort it will be good fun finding out and playing around with the heroic mechanic in the cube environment.
Spear of Heliod 6/10
Glorious Anthem is just cube worthy itself as this is almost strictly better. The only thing it has going against it compared to Anthem is that destroy artifact spells will hit it which is more annoying in cube than most other formats where the amount of artifact removal is high, especially in relation to the amount of enchantment removal. As with all the cards in this cycle there are both control and tempo aspects which will mean making full use of them is hard. The +1/+1 obviously gives you tempo and makes you want to attack while the removal effect discourages them from attacking and gives you some element of control over the game. Both halves of the card are good in their own right and should each be the main function desired in different decks provided the other is of some potential use, although the +1/+1 most often as the primary aspect. I can see control wanting to have this as a good way to stop the beats or gain card advantage should they try to force in damage, with the +1/+1 just being to help out improve the odd planeswalker token. Conversely I can see agro white decks using this regardless of the removal portion and just getting occasional bonus activation out of it.
Soldier of the Pantheon 7/10
A very solid auto include for the cube and quite possibly the best stand alone tempo one drop in white. It is a human which increases his playability and synergy. The life gain aspect is insignificant for the most part but better to have than not. Protection from multicoloured is looking really powerful at the moment in cube off the back of a strong gold set and with a pile of new strong gold cards in this set as well. It is one of the only tempo cards I can think of that isn't really negated by a Baleful Strix play. Unlike protection from specific colours I am a fan of protection from gold as it is not so dependant on your opponents deck nor so much of a hate card that can easily ruin games.
A really high proportion of one mana two power creatures make it into the cube and so one with no drawback complete with useful perks is a no brainer. Probably just a straight swap for Savannah Lions as white has sufficient high quality one drops.
Artisan of Forms 1/10
There may be some odd combo with this card but I can't imagine it is any good. As just a clone effect this is far too much hassle to make reliable that it is never going to be worth playing in a cube deck over Phantasmal Image or Phyrexian Metalmorph.
Bident of Thassa 0/10
Far too expensive for a card that impacts the board so little and relies on other cards to be strong. Edric, Spymaster of Trest is a mana cheaper and comes on a useful body and is rarely that exciting in cube. This will not do better. Forcing attacks can come in handy but isn't even close to enough of a kicker to make the Bident playable.
Breaching Hippocamp 1/10
God awful card except for the fact it offers another blue option to use in the Splinter Twin combo. It is a great deal worse than the three mana flash options but when you only have a single copy of each the redundancy is quite welcome. I don't support this particular combo in my cube but it is one of the effective and painless ones you can include and so this might see some cube action despite being low power and narrow.
Curse of the Swine 6/10
This is a very very interesting card. It is good creature removal and it is in blue. The thing that makes this card stand out so much more than Pongify and other previous similar blue removal cards is that it exiles the targets which is of great value in cube. It is also a world easier to deal with 2/2s than 3/3s with your blue spells and dorks. Pongify is much cheaper and also instant which is typically of paramount importance in removal however blue has very good bounce options to fill that role. What blue lacks is a way to permanently get rid of annoying creatures in the late game. Not only will this exile their best dork it will also take out their second, third and so on best dorks if you need it to. In the cube this is closer to a one sided wrath in blue than you are getting with any other card as 2/2 tokens are so negligible most of the time. I suspect I will return Echoing Truth to the cube in place of some other bounce spell to really help this card shine. It is very much the cube metagame and the colour pie that make this card so interesting rather than it's own raw power. A great tool for blue to have access too and a card that will require consideration when deck building with it rather than something like a Vindicate you just throw in when you have it in your colours regardless of any other consideration. Curse of the Swine will allow a lot more scope in what you can do with a mono blue deck however outside of blue and blue green I doubt it will see play as better removal options are available.
Three mana counter magic has to offer a lot more than a mere scry for one to be viable in the cube. A neat and fair spell that will be a big aid to control in other formats, just not the cube.
Fate Foretold 3/10
This is slightly fiddly to set up and a little risky but does offer very cheap card advantage. To be playable I think you need a lot of creatures you intend to sacrifice complete with the ability to reliably do so, which is not something blue really has in the cube presently.
Master of Waves 5/10
While not terrible, and sometimes obscene this card concerns me. My main objection to the card is that it is four mana for something that has one toughness and leaves you with nothing once it is gone. The protection from red goes quite a long way to helping against the low toughness but there are still a wealth of things like Garruk Relentless, Cursed Scroll, Tragic Slip, Contagion Clasp, Ication Javelineer, Masticore etc that hard counter this guy. Being a merfolk you could use him very well in conjunction with cards like Lord of Atlantis who will make him that much safer and ensure you get far more value from your devotion but few cubes support tribal themes. At worst this is a pair of 2/1s for four, one of which has pro red but will kill the other if it dies. This makes the Master of Waves a fairly weak aggressive top deck but a fairly strong curve topper should you have any existing board presence. Blue has poor ways of making lots of guys on the cheap and so I could see this bolstering the power of Opposition. If there were several other strong blue elemental creatures in the cube this would become more interesting but it is still worthy of being tested out.
Nimbus Naiad 2/10
Like most of the bestow cards this is too expensive to make much of an impact in cube. Giving flying to a creature as well as +2/+2 is pretty big and will give you a serious threat or take out a planeswalker when they were not expecting it but at five mana you can do a lot more and don't need to have a dork in play. Getting a free 2/2 flier once they have dealt with your threat is not a significant enough perk to merit the high upfront cost and the option to just have a three mana 2/2 flier is also somewhat underwhelming. Mulldrifter this is not, even if it is a better tempo card. This is still one of the best of the common and uncommon bestow cards thus far, just sadly not good enough. It is a shame the bestow cards don't appear to work with Academy Researchers or the mechanism would be far more interesting.
Omen Speaker 5/10
This is a very dull card that is rarely going to be awful while never being exciting. Augur of Bolas is more powerful but is also hard to play and can miss too often if you do not build with him in mind. Omen Speaker will work in any deck and is more effective and finding you the all important land drops however it provides no card advantage which means you have to really rather want a 1/3 body. Omen Speakers size is very effective as a defensive creature within the cube environment however I suspect the card is a little too low power and impact to become a cube mainstay. I think I would generally prefer to run Surveilling Sprite or Apprentice Alchemist as a two drop speed bump over this dork if Augur of Bolas was not suitable.
Ordeal of Thassa 2/10
While to slow and fiddly to use normally, in the cube there is slight potential to abuse this with effects that allow you to sacrifice enchantments which would basically make this a powerful draw spell, especially as it has overlap in support from Fate Foretold.
Prognostic Sphinx 6.5/10
This is most welcome in blue as it currently has nothing substantial it can do in that slot. This card fits the bill perfectly being able to evade or absorb most removal and is also able to effectively block most of the creatures in the cube. It is a bit expensive to be an especially useful discard outlet but having a mana free way to give your fatty hexproof is exactly what this kind of card wants. Tapping it when you do so is annoying and will allow agro decks to fight on in the tempo wars but without it the card would start to look unreasonably like Aetherling. The scry is very powerful and should ensure that once you have stabilized enough to be able to attack that you keep them on the back foot. A very good all rounder that is significant on the board, a strong threat and a massive defensive wall.
Shipbreaker Kraken 2/10
A six mana 6/6 is nothing to write home about, even in blue, but it will still be a threat. The monstrous ability gives you some fairly effective mass removal style ability and should allow you to get ten damage through but it is a further huge mana investment. There are situations where this is going to out perform a Frost Titan but they are a tiny fraction of the likely situations and so this shouldn't see any real cube play even if it would be fine in a cube.
Stymied Hope 3/10
It is a great shame how the scry in this set is priced. Most of it will be fantastic in limited however in the cube the cost is too great. With just the slightest bit more or less in the right area this card would be amazing in the cube and one of blues really strong counterspells but as it is you are just always going to play a card more effective at countering things for two mana, or a one mana counterspell such as Forces Spike. This is still a really strong card and will allow you to curve well while damaging their curving potential, just not strong enough in the cube.
Swan Song 5/10
Another card I expect I am being overly hopeful for. Very nice design but rather overshadowed by Spell Pierce. Swan Song scales much better into the late game than basically every other cube viable one mana counter spell but I suspect its nasty early game drawback and limitation on targets will lead to it not getting much play.
Thassa's Emissary 1/10
Same problem as with the other bestow cards on the whole. A strong effect with versatility but not strong enough for the high mana requirement.
Thassa, God of the Sea 5.5/10
Despite what the rating might suggest I am very keen on this card. As a threat, even a three mana 5/5 indestructible, the devotion trigger makes it far too inconsistent and disruptable to rely on. It is the other aspects of the card that I find more interesting overall. Scrying is good in every match-up and getting to do so every turn will give a huge advantage over the long game. Although not worth three mana and a card to just scry once a turn it is still a really big boost to a card with lots of strings to its bow. Being able to make things unblockable for just two mana has some strong interaction with cards that really want to connect as well as offering a lot of reach to creature based decks. Again, the effect is not alone worth three mana and a card but it is going to be powerful to have about. This card will give a lot of options and offer a lot of fun trickery and interactions. It has three somewhat separate and distinct effects that do not have any particular synergy with each other and are not worth playing the card for on their own but together form a very appealing little package. Thassa might wind up being a bit too demanding in where it is suitable to play and become overly narrow for the cube as you do want to be able to utilize all three of her effects, obviously every deck will enjoy the scry but far fewer will have much chance of reaching a devotion of five in blue and only really the tempo decks will have abuses for the unblockable portion.
Triton, Fortune Hunter 1/10
Another card that seems like there are situations where you could abuse it however not with enough ease or to enough effect to be worth the effort within cube. Not enough strong cards target your own creatures and you are not going to fill up on those kinds of cards to work with this kind of creature, the interaction is just not powerful enough. Super card advantage potential with Ordeal of Thassa and Fate Foretold but that synergy screams out block constructed and not cube.
Triton Tactics 1/10
A cheap and powerful tempo combat trick for blue, a colour not normally into such things. This is far more Blinding Beam than it is a conventional stats boost combat trick or way of killing creatures but for just one mana it could do wonders in an agro deck. The problem with this as with most combat tricks is that it is too situational to be worth a slot in any deck.
A nicely costed aggressive blue two drop that could see play but probably wont as you ideally want more value from your dorks. Blue dorks are generally small for the price you pay and so blue usually supplements their creatures with other colours or equipment so as to offset this. As a result you don't need to invest in dorks that have stats as much and you are better off getting utility and card advantage where possible instead on from your dorks.
Voyage's End 5/10
This is a very frustrating card mostly due to the strong competition over this kind of slot in the cube. We have Echoing Truth, Into the Roil, Cyclonic Rift and Boomerang all contending for what is at best two slots. All of them have a perk and a drawback compared to the others, the perk of Voyage's End is scry, a thing we love in all decks and that really improves the quality of games. The drawback is that it only hits dorks. Sadly I don't think this will make the final cut as the other two mana bounce spells are all much more powerful when used for their specific perk. An early Boomerang on a land or heaven forbid, a bounce land or an Echoing Truth dealing with Lingering Souls etc.
Abhorrent Overlord 2/10
Some added value on a big flying dork however this is far too unreliable and lacking power compared to what you can get for seven mana in the cube. Tokens are nice but this isn't the way to go about getting them.
Agent of the Fates 3/10
A reasonable body with a powerful heroic effect. Sadly I cannot foresee any black deck being able to support this card enough so that both it and the deck as a whole are at all good. You need to trigger the heroic on this card for it to be better than other three drops and that presently isn't happening.
Asphodel Wanderer 1/10
I have always wanted the generic one mana black regenerator however this is so expensive to regenerate and such a limp dork that it would rarely be worth the mana to keep it alive. I reckon Will O' the Wisp is better as an aggressive card as well as defensively which says it all really.
Boon of Erebos 2/10
Neat design and an interesting combat trick in black however losing life for this is not really where black wants to spend this resource. Black also being a bit slow, clunky and devoid of card quality probably wants to avoid any card that is inherently narrow such as a combat trick.
Dark Betrayal 1/10
Far too narrow to be worthy of a cube slot despite being a fine removal spell in the right situation.
Disciple of Phenax 0/10
Four mana and a lame body to go with it make this very poor in comparison to too many of the creatures that can attack hands. You either need to be very cheap or you need to come as an all round desirable package on which accounts this fails.
Erebos, God of the Dead 5.5/10
This is a very hard card to evaluate as it is unlike any other existing cards. It is part Greed and part Sulphuric Vortex bolted onto an erratic yet obnoxious fatty. Black is the colour where devotion will be the easiest to accrue with a wide array of cheap permanent types with very high ratios of black to colourless mana cost to lay down. The unusual nature by which Erebos will be a dork or not will lead to some interesting choices and interactions which leads to better games and so I am keen for this to be a cube worthy card. There are however problems with Erebos which make his cube career uncertain. Firstly I am not exactly sure where this guy fits in, probably only mono black agro as control cannot afford to invest that much mana in something that has the potential to have zero impact on the board. Outside of mono black I cannot see you having sufficient devotion often enough to make the card worth it and within mono black agro decks there is some serious competition in the four slot as well as an aversion to having too many high cost spells due to Dark Confidant. The card draw will come in very handy in the late game but is significantly inferior to the other life for cards effects in black in the cube and therefore will never be a reason to play the card on its own. Preventing life gain is also nice but again not worth a card and four mana on its own. All in all Erebus is a lot of card but he is also somewhat all over the place and needs to be cohesively useful to really shine in a deck.
Erebos's Emissary 3/10
Oddly this is a bestow creature that interests me more just as a dork than as an aura for its main function. A Hill Giant with a zero mana, reusable pumping ability that doubles up a discard outlet for your dorks has some uses and abuses within the cube. Just filling up with a pile of dorks in hand is easy in a couple of different ways in black and will make this guy able to get big or fatal blows in dangerously often. The bestow is incredibly expensive and isn't really the kind of thing you want to affix to an existing dork and so is fairly close to a blank effect in the cube but the card is still interesting if perhaps a little costly initially.
Grey Merchant of Asphodel 2/10
While clearly far too low power to be a cube worthy card it does finally provide a solid win mechanism within a zombie Bidding style deck. Living Death or Patriarch's bidding are easy to set up in black and should be able to instantly win the game in combination with this new clumsy common.
Hero's Downfall 7/10
It is always the least exciting looking cards that have the most impact in the cube and this is one such card. Dreadbore for one more mana might seem a bit meh but Downfall has two very significant upsides over Dreadbore. Not being gold makes Hero's Downfall substantially more playable than Dreadbore, it is also a bit less onerous on colour requirement with a third of its cost being only in colourless. Instant is especially powerful on removal as it allows you to be tricky, get added value in cards or tempo in certain situations and allows you to have better information before committing to choices. The instant is more relevant for creatures than planewalkers yet it is still an all round boost and makes the card the best planeswalker removal in the cube to date. It is also a massive all round boost to black giving it a solid new tool in it's colour pie with a few good planeswalker removal spells.
Hythonia the Cruel 3/10
While this is a fine monster it is going to be too mana intensive to make the most out of her in the cube. There are just too many better alternatives when you get to the 6-8 converted mana cost region that do the same sort of things with more other perks and less mana.
Mogis Marauder 2/10
If this was a Zombie than black would have some very solid new tools to work with Patriarch's Bidding. It still can help out with Living Death but is likely a bit too lack lustre just as a tempo play in most situations to be worthy of a slot in all but the most dedicated decks.
I really want this to be good as I approve highly of the bestow mechanic but I fear it is just that little bit too inconsistent and costly for the cube. With reshuffle and graveyard removal in relative abundance in the cube there will be plenty of occasions this is a mighty 0/0. In addition to this it is much weaker in the early game than it is in the late game and the early game is far more important overall in Magic. Bonehoard is a much better card overall as it starts as a guy and then boosts other guys later making it more consistent to get value from and it was not quite reliable enough for the cube.
Pharika's Cure 2/10
A functional reprint of Sorin's Thirst is still not quite going to make it. This just needs to be slightly more convenient to make the cut, something as simple as being able to hit players or perhaps even a 1B cost would do it.
Read the Bones 5/10
The power of this card seems very low in comparison to Phyrexian Arena, Necropotence and even Night's Whisper let alone the various black creatures with cards for life options. Despite this I find myself very drawn to this particular incarnation of black draw. One of the hardest things I find when building a black deck is getting the overall consistency of the deck optimal as you have very few cheap and easy card quality tools. I find black more susceptible to floods and screws than any other colour despite having the second most raw card draw potential in the cube after blue. Black is a fairly clunky colour as it is and so even minor mana hiccoughs can be a huge set back. While Phyrexian Arena and Necropotence are much more powerful than Read the Bones they are also much more of a commitment, on both occasions you are pretty much committing to losing at least one life per turn for the rest of the game which makes the cards weak in certain match-ups and unplayable in a lot of situations. Night's Whisper is a third less mana than Read the Bones and draws the same number of cards for the same life loss which makes it a better card advantage spell. The thing is that you are not actually after card advantage from these card when you play them, you have far better ways to get card advantage in black, you are playing the card to smooth out your curve, mana and draw in general, you are playing the Night's Whisper to ensure you are able to get to the stages of the game where blacks high power cards will win the game. With this in mind the scry is very nearly as good as drawing cards. When you need to hit that fourth land Read the Bones is twice as effective as Night's Whisper. Heavy black and mono black control decks are uncommon in the cube presently but it is a lot to do with a lack of cards like this to support it and not because black doesn't have the other required tools and power. Read the Bones doesn't really have a place outside midrange and control decks and so unless it has enough of an impact to see those kinds of decks becoming more popular Read the Bones won't have a place in the cube however it will still be one to keep an eye on for later if they should become viable.
Returned Phalanx 1/10
I love a 2 mana 3/3 but ones that need several colours and effectively have mana upkeeps are way off the mark.
Rescue from the Underworld 4/10
This is a very cool card both for flavour and for effect. Sadly five is a little too much I fear for this to be playable in cube with Exhume, Reanimate and the more comparable Recurring Nightmare to chose from instead. The spell itself might be instant but the effect is not really. It is nice that it can trigger comes into play effects again on dorks you have in play but it shouldn't be enough to compete with the efficiency and convenience of the reanimate alternatives.
Very low impact but on of the few acceptable black heroic enablers and so worth setting one aside in case that is ever a thing.
Tormented Hero 6/10
As a stand alone black agro one drop this is better than all on offer bar Gravecrawler. However not being a zombie makes the card far less good at supporting things like Gravecrawler and may well get edged out of decks by weaker cards such as Carnophage as a result. The heroic effect is doing very little presently in the cube with black having no spells you would want to target your own dorks with however if that were to change the Hero would become pretty good for just one mana. This is not a card you need to support with heroic enablers to be good but it does make it one of the lower powered cards in the cube without it. Being a human will help bolster Xathrid Necromancer who presently needs additional colours to have enough humans.
Viper's Kiss 4/10
This is a very interesting little removal spell that I think scales fairly well. It will kill or sufficiently shrink most early dorks that they are no real threat while still being able to entirely negate a decent chunk of annoying creatures as the game progresses. Being both sorcery speed and able to be removed at a later date make me wary of the card but I shall definitely try this out before ruling it out.
Whip of Erebos 4/10
In reality I know this is too expensive to really work in the cube however it is a powerful card that would be a lot of fun in the right deck. It is a bit of a black Sneak Attack but with a prohibitive activation cost not sufficiently offset by the lifelink sweetener. I will have a bit of fun building decks around this card but if you want to maximise your chances of winning you should stick to paying two or less to reanimate dorks, at a push three, or just casting dorks rather than trying to cheat them into play. Corpse Dance seems like it is always going to out perform this and it is not quite good enough to be a mainstay in my cube.
Akroan Crusader 3/10
A card that needs an awful lot of support, the kind of support presently not in the cube in close to sufficient quantities. Without that support this is just a 1/1 and even with it you are unlikely to turn this card into a must kill threat. Still, when you have the potential for synergy or value from a one drop you cannot disregard it. The existence of Young Pyromancer certainly increases the synergy potential Akroan Crusader has in the cube already.
Anger the Gods 5/10
Slagstorm fills this role in the cube presently and is more flexible if not as powerful in its primary function as this. The situational aspect of when this is good leads me to think it won't be replacing the Slagstorm.
Arena Athlete 1/10
A flimsy dork that suffers from the lack of good cube heroic triggers. The battalion dork to the same effect is going to be significantly more effective at doing what you want these cards to do and it isn't powerful or reliable enough for the cube.
Coordinated Assault 2/10
A cheap and nasty combat trick that can just get in a couple of damage most of the time when not needed in combat. Also a great heroic enabler but that is looking like something red is not going to be wanting. Being more situational than your average combat trick is going to make this too big of a risk for the kind of deck that might play it in the cube however.
Deathbellow Raider 1/10
Fairly meaty dork with an OK off colour regenerate and a minor drawback that shouldn't have much negative impact on the card in appropriate decks for it. Also one of the few cube viable Minotaur but not exciting or powerful enough to compete with the tempo red two drops on offer these days.
Dragon Mantle 1/10
I like this less than the black version despite this appearing to be cheaper as in reality it will be far more expensive to generate value from. I doubt heroic will ever be a main theme in any cube but just in case it is I shall set this aside.
Ember Swallower 5/10
I think this card will fall short of doing what you want it too in most decks. I can see it working very nicely in the Wildfire archetypes that do fairly well in cube but being little more than a fat four drop in basically everything else. As with all the monstrous creatures Ember Swallower offers a good starting body but not good enough alone to be playable complete with a powerful effect that is expensive for what it does even disregarding the initial cost to play the creature. This means you need to be making use of the monstrous ability to make the package worth playing which for Ember Swallower ensures he will be narrow, very possibly too narrow. It is rare to see such a high stats monster in red, particularly with the emphasis on the toughness which could see him being more useful in red control decks.
Firedrinker Satyr 7/10
This will do far better in cube than most other formats and is most welcome. I will be sad to see the Jackal Pup go but this guy rather does suggest it is time and with Savannah Lion also looking untenable with Mr Pantheon showing up I should just man up and so the spring cleaning needed on the old school one drop beaters. In other formats this card is quite low impact while being very high risk however in the cube the slight perk it has over Jackal Pup will give you a lot more mileage while the risk is inherently lower due to the extreme nature of the format and the fact that by being in red you are less likely to face up against red which is where this drawback is most harmful. So what is so good about an expensive, self harming firebreathing effect? Two reasons, firstly, in the kind of deck you want this kind of card every damage you can get in extra when you have the opportunity, such as spare mana, helps. You are trying to get every morsel of value from each card and each mana and this performs well as a one drop beater while also providing the opportunity to get added free damage in. Secondly it is not shut down by three and four toughness dorks like almost every other threat you might make in red deck wins and so you will be able to happily attack with this where Jackal Pup is just a dead weight liability. Sometimes just having enough mana up to be able to trade with their blocker will stop them doing so and effectively force through free damage where a Jackal Pup could not. You are also usually quite happy when you don't have to go two for one on cards to take out a four or more toughness creature. A balanced yet interesting and solid card that will be going in my cube for sure.
Fanatic of Mogis 3/10
Somewhere between a Flametongue Kavu and a Keldon Champion this dork is a bit inconsistent in its effect bolted onto a really unimpressive body for the mana. I bet the average damage this guy would deal in cube is around two and I doubt I would want this unless it were about four.
Hammer of Purphoros 5/10
This offers a lot but is going to be hard to use effectively. Giving haste to your dorks is a nice aggressive tempo ability while turning your lands into 3/3s for three mana is a far more control style strategy. Certainly it is fine as one of your ways to grind out a win in the late game in an agro deck but it is going to be hard to construct such a deck where you will be getting enough value out of a three mana effect that basically just gives haste in the early and mid game. Fires of Yavimaya is not good enough for the cube although having said that it might now be with absurd things like Kalonian Hydra to lay after it, redundancy from Hammer of Purphoros amongst others and a wealth of ramp critters to make it happen a turn sooner. I suspect this will tend to be easier to include in control decks where giving the odd big threat like Inferno Titan is a nice boost while you mainly are using the card to generate threats out of lands. Whether it is powerful enough to go into those decks remains to be seen.
Lightning Strike 6/10
Obviously good enough for the cube as Searing Spear is already in however I do wonder how much play this will actually get given how much other more interesting burn there is floating around. Most cheap cards get better as the redundancy for them increases however with this flavour of burn in the cube I think we are into the stages of diminishing returns.
Ordeal of Purphoros 1/10
I would have totally disregarded this spell if it were not for one little subtle wording on it that means it deals three damage whenever you might sacrifice it rather than having to have triggered it through several attacks. Overall the card offers good value but in a very convoluted, disruptable and fiddly way however there is a chance it can be abused due to the sacrifice trigger.
Peak Eruption 1/10
If it were not for Magus of the Moon effects I probably wouldn't bother with this card as it is a hoser and quite a niche one at that. It is still not very exciting even with this potential synergy and shouldn't ever see play but is different and potential powerful enough to merit setting aside.
Purphoros, God of the Forge 3/10
All round the effects of this are not exciting enough to give an interesting package like Erebos or Thassa. A temperamental 6/5 indestructible with a very expensive creature pump effect do not excite at all in red. The 2 damage aspect of the card is the most interesting as it has some real potential to abuse. Sadly at four mana it seems unlikely to make a sufficiently good combo card and would be better without all the other bits at less mana.
Rageblood Shaman 1/10
This would be pretty good if there were as many red minotaurs as there are white humans, green elves or blue wizards. With presently zero other minotuars in my cube this can sit collecting dust just in case they print and awful lot of great minotaurs.
Spark Jolt 5/10
Another card I really like as it is a cheap and widely useful effect complete with the delightful scry mechanic. If you get to kill a one or two drop with this you are feeling well ahead. As the game goes on however the value of the card goes down quite a lot and probably is not worth it outside of decks that are able to obtain reliable card advantage. There is also minimal demand for one damage spells in the cube and both Gut Shot and Lava Dart offer a lot more utility than Spark Jolt even if they don't help the overall consistency of your deck. A lovely card but probably not quite enough of an effect enough of the time to merit a slot.
Stormbreath Dragon 7/10
Thundermaw Hellkite still has this beat simply for the faster standalone clock. Baneslayer Angel also still has this dorks number as well which is a little embarrassing. Never the less we have a very powerful all round threat that is also one of the few monstrous creatures strong enough to be playable without the monstrous kicker. Sadly the kicker is not that exciting, most of the time it will get more damage in from the +3/+3 in one hit than the ability will do. I generally don't like protection creatures as they always feel a little random and tedious however protection from white on a red dork is fairly appealing as white still has plenty of solutions to it yet is a very hard colour for red to deal with on the whole.
Titan's Strength 5/10
Of the cheap scry cards on offer in this set this is one of my favourites. This will be a fine combat trick with a huge power boost complete with some extra toughness. Brute Force is obviously better in this regard however red has lots of first strike which will offset this and red will frequently be using the card just as a burn spell rather than a combat trick anyway. As such the scry feels like it is a free perk on this card where as on things like Voyage's End it is at the cost of some other valuable utility perk such as overload. As with Brute Force the slightly situational nature of the card might mean it is not played much but the scry being an all round aid to your deck will hopefully be enough to prevent this.
Arbour Colossus 4/10
While this is well above the curve in power it isn't doing enough to merit a slot in the cube. The competition, particularly in green from things like Wolfir Silverheart, Thragtusk and Kalonian Hydra edge cards like Arbour Colossus out of contention. In reality it is more comparable to Chancellor of the Tangle and Cloudthresher as a body but despite being cheaper it does not offer enough added utility to be preferable to either.
Boon Satyr 6/10
Flash is a fantastic ability to have on a bestow creature as it greatly increases the utility of the bestow up to a combat trick. The card that is most alike to Boon Satyr is Ghor-Clan Rampager although Rampager is more of a tempo card while the Satyr has more value and longevity associated with it. Five is a lot to pay for a combat trick but then +4/+2 permanently as well as a 4/2 replacement if the enchanted dork dies will offer a lot of mileage and tempo in the subsequent turns. The cheaper end of cards with variable costs are almost always the most relevant portion of the card and a 3 mana 4/2 with flash is a decent aggressive dork but in the cube it is not especially exciting.
The reason it is a nice perk to have on a card you want to be using as a combat trick is because it will increase the consistency of your tempo deck while still offering you a lot of added reach. Combat tricks are very powerful, they are just let down by being situational which the Boon Satyr is not. Sure, making a 4/2 for three is not the most exciting thing you can do in a cube agro deck but it is a damn sight better than doing nothing.
Bow of Nylea 6/10
A highly versatile card that does deceptively little. Despite having five different effects the Bow does not achieve very much either very cheaply or very quickly. I think that it is unplayable in an aggressive deck because you don't really want enough of what the card does nor is what you might want really worth the card or mana. Having said all this I actually love this card, it is right up my street being full of trickery and utility. I have found that with the high power of things in the cube along with forty cards and no duplicates that frequently in my deck building I want to have mechanisms to recycle my spells for repeat uses. There are very few cards that are up to the standard of a cube card that allow you to do this. Primal Command sees a huge amount of play in grindy control decks and a big part of that is being able to restock your library in the extreme late game, both because you need to reuse certain cards and to avoid decking yourself. Cards like Birthing Pod run out of steam very quickly as you deplete your library and I can see the Bow being a perfect support card for those kinds of grindy control deck as well as more midrange engine decks such as those using the afore mentioned Birthing Pod. The Bow has enough lots of effects that you might want in your deck but individually do not justify a dedicated slot to that it becomes playable as a coverall. Having access to life gain for example gives you a lot more game against certain match-ups and gives you far more confidence to take the game as late as it needs to and/or going to low life. Shooting at fliers won't be relevant in several match-ups but will be an Achilles Heel in a couple and so your deck will remain more consistent playing something like this that it would if you decided to run a Cloudthreser or a Hurricane. Putting counters on things is nice, it is a fairly reliable way to effect the board and gain value that isn't as situational as the other effects, it is also neat for turning off opposing undying monsters or turning persist ones back online. It also has a bit of synergy with cards like Triskelion and Kalonian Hydra although this is a bit win more and marginal that it makes little difference to the card. Overall the least useful things is having deathtouch on your attackers. It will help you to kill planeswalkers and up the value of any cheaper utility or mana dorks you might have made but not to the tune of three mana and a cards worth, particularly as this is a control card. If it gave deathtouch all the time to your dorks it would be a really insane control card as you would be fairly hard to kill with conventional damage dealing routes though a pile of mana critters. A cool card that is a bit all over the place yet manages to to fit into several cube roles fairly well.
Commune with Nature 1/10
Although you don't really want to run any sorceries in an enchantress style deck this is about as good a card quality spell you will find for the archetype as it hits either of the two main engine cards in the deck. Enchantress decks are almost never supported in cubes and with good reason, they have narrow cards that wind up as last picks, the archetype isn't really top tier and on top of that it is really really hard to build one that isn't totally awful.
Fade into Antiquity 1/10
Seems really harsh that white got this card at two mana. Deglamour is just going to be preferable to this at a mana less and instant speed.
Karametra's Acolyte 2/10
Four is a lot to pay for a ramp spell, particularly one with summoning sickness. This can give you a stupid amount of mana but it can also just give you one which is not getting it done. I feel as if Vernal Bloom is going to be the safer card doing this sort of thing but then having redundancy in serious ramping effects may be desirable.
Mistcutter Hydra 4/10
A bit of a clunky card but also a very powerful threat. Blue can be tedious to beat and this is a fairly good way to go about doing so however I am a bit loath to put in a card that is so average against most colours simply to be able to hose blue in a fairly uniteractive and boring fashion.
Nemesis of Mortals 1/10
While a card with reduced costs is always an eyebrow raiser this is a card that does very little other than being fat and not even that fat for the kinds of mana you can expect to pay for it at various stages of the game. I would much rather have a Ghoul Tree, if you are going to bother trying to abuse something you may as well go all out and get something better than slightly above the curve for your efforts.
Nylea, God of the Hunt 2/10
This really needed trample itself to be interesting at all. The pump effect costs too much mana and giving trample to other things doesn't add much to the card. A poor threat and a poor selection of creature buffs.
Ordeal of Nylea 4/10
Of the Ordeal cycle this is that offers the most power if you can immediately sacrifice it and so should sufficient quality ways to do this early find their way into the cube this also could. Without a way to abuse it however it is just slow and unreliable and therefore not deserving of a cube slot.
Polukranos, World Eater 7/10
A four mana 5/5 used to be the business but due to the power creep it is now quite unexciting. What is a lot more exciting is a fairly practical way to kill creatures in green. Yes, it is very expensive and will not be especially suitable at taking out fatties but compared to the alternatives open to green it is unrestricted and reliable. It can be done at instant speed making combat with a non monstrous Polukranos on the board dangerous. It can be divided up so as to deal with things like Spectral Procession and it is on a 5/5 body that is far more robust than Garruk Relentless or Master of the Wild Hunt and will rather negate his inability to monstrous kill fatties. In red or black this card wouldn't be very interesting at all but its polar position in the colour pie means it is very welcome.
Satyr Hedonist 6/10
I tend to overrate cheap cards that in some way provide value, be that in card advantage, card quality, tempo, mana or a combination of aspects. On the face of it this is an unexciting set of stats for the cost and an ability that will be hard to put to good use as it costs you card advantage and is in another colour. I am not sure if you want this as some part of a combo engine, in control as a big bit of ramp or a speed block as required or in agro as burst potential or a cheap beater as required. With great support cards from traditional green mana elves and birds to Orcish Lumberjack, Tinder Wall, Burning-Tree Emissary and even the likes of Priest of Urabrask I am sure some very interesting things will be done.
Sylvan Caryatid 7/10
Utopia Tree has had a much needed makeover and come back looking decidedly playable. Wall of Roots is a good ramp spell as well as a decent defensive play. Sylvan Caryatid is either a great ramp spell or a great defensive card each complete round of turns. Overall the Wall of Roots is the better card as doing two things at once fairly well beats doing either one slightly better. Tapping for mana of any colour is the real strength of this card and it is a huge boost to the five colour control archetype. Certainly you have Birds of Paradise and Lotus Cobra able to fix colours effectively however they are both highly vulnerable just having a single toughness. Hexproof seals the deal complete with three toughness giving you impunity to block Goblin Guides without fear of a Lava Dart or Arc Trail finishing off your blocker. Overall the card is incredibly dependable which more than compensates for its somewhat slower returns on investment as ramp goes in the cube.
Warrior's Lesson 4/10
One mana draw two is about as close to Ancestral Recall as we are likely to see and in green it is very interesting. Obviously you need to have several creatures and have them able to get through unblocked and this means the card is very situational and unsuitable for most decks. I am not even sure if there is a deck where you can rely on having two attackers consistently and where those attacks would be in some way profitable. A mana elf style deck for example should be able to get two creatures through most of the time however it will probably need to put so many creatures in the bin due to blocks making the Lesson not worth it. Great design and interesting card but as with so many cards from this set, combat based things are risky and situational and need to be really special to cut it in the cube.
Akroan Hoplite 3/10
This would be good enough in the right kind of Boros deck abusing battalion and battlecry effects however being gold and no use in any other deck and only just worthy of that one specialized form of archetype the card is left too narrow to be worth a slot.
Anax and Cymede 4/10
A very solid three drop with a very powerful heroic effect that is good value and high power. If there were more good heroic enablers available in the cube or probably even if this was just one colour so as to increase its playability then it would be a cube worthy card. As it is I reckon it will be too niche and too unreliable.
Ashen Rider 6.5/10
Basically a straight upgrade on Angel of Despair. Sure, you have to pay an extra mana but for the most part it is not a card that is cast normally anyway. For your extra mana you get to exile rather than destroy and you get to do it a second time if they happen to deal with your dork in the wrong way. Overall a lot more powerful and a better value card and will be an easy swap one for one with the Angel.
Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver 5/10
Mill is very easy to stop in the cube but if it isn't then it is a little over powered as decks are 40 cards yet play like constructed decks. Imagine how good burn decks would be if players started on 14 life! As a milling threat this is a very strong card but without support it is rarely going to mill people out on its own and I am loath to give it any support as mill in cube is one of the least fun archetypes there is. As a card in its own right I am more stumped on how exactly to evaluate this new walker. It reminds me most of Jace Beleren in that it is a three mana walker that can go right to five loyalty however makes little impact on the board. Ashiok will eventually lead to improving your board but this is slow and inconsistent and will give your opponent the opportunity to do what they need first most of the time. I am worried that Ashiok can be ignored for too long without really gaining you anything. Against control decks Ashiok will be most dangerous but will also be at his slowest and therefore easier to deal with. Against agro decks he will either be crushed quickly without netting you any advantage bar some life or he will be ignored while you are swiftly killed.
The ultimate ability is very weak as they go not doing anything to the board nor really helping much to win the game yet still costs vast amounts of loyalty. At least both the main abilities go some way to ending the game but does leave Ashiok looking like one of the least diverse planeswalkers. Certainly this will need testing before I rule it out but my get feel is that it is not quite cube material.
Chronicler of Heroes 3/10
Solid monster with a strong trigger that is quite easy to have online. Unfortunately being gold and quite unexciting without the trigger this doesn't merit a slot.
Daxos of Meletis 4/10
Three fairly nice and complementary abilities don this Grey Ogre but despite Azorius having the fewest good gold cards this feels a little slow and vulnerable for the cube. I will certainly try this out as evasive threats that offer cards and life are hard to turn down but I will wager he spends most of his time eating removal or sitting back avoiding combat and effectively being a big waste of a card and three mana.
Destructive Revelry 5/10
Great added value but not enough to command a slot over something like Naturalize due to it being so much more widely playable as a mono coloured spell.
Fleecemane Lion 7.5/10
White green seems to get all the stupidly powerful monsters that push the expected boundaries. I remember people getting excited about Watchwolf and clearly Mr Lion is a lot more monster. It is like the good level up monsters in that you have a variety of different mana investments to make on the card for improving returns of power making which it scale well and improve the consistency of your deck. Although you only have two aspects rather than the three on the level up creatures and you have to pay all the mana in one lump sum rather than as you can afford the upsides outweigh this significantly. Firstly both aspects of Fleecemane are very good, a 3/3 for two is just a solid tempo threat that should always give you the upper hand if played early and a 4/4 hexproof indestructible makes Thrun look somewhat weak in comparison. They also pair well with each other, an early play to get the upper hand with the option to turn into a late game troublesome threat to draw things to a close. The second main perk of Fleecemane over the various level up creatures is the ability to make the transition at instant speed making it much safer to invest in and much more dangerous to play against.
Horizon Chimera 2/10
Quite a package but even with all the frills it is a relatively low power four drop with too low toughness to be worthwhile.
Medomi the Ageless 5/10
A 4/4 flying body is always going to be a decent thing to have in a game of magic but for two colours and six mana you can do a great deal better in the cube. As such the focus of this card is its ability to give you extra turns. We have seen from Lighthouse Chronologist that it is really hard to lose a game of magic when you start to take two turns for every one of theirs. Sadly Medomi needs to make contact rather than just survive, is harder to cast and has little early game use which probably edge it out of contention for a cube slot. There are simply so many creatures that need to be killed almost immediately otherwise the game will be unrecoverable in the cube that are harder to kill than this, offer more value when made or are much easier to cast that you can overlook the power of the ability offered to a certain extent.
Polis Crusher 2/10
A fine creature but no where close to as good as several Gruul cards of the same cost as well as serving no especially desirable purpose.
Prophet of Kruphix 3/10
Seedborn Muse and Teferi's love child is a very tempting package but falls short on a few accounts. Firstly we don't like to pay top end curve mana for the kind of body you can find on a one drop. We especially don't like those sort of investments when you don't get any instant value back from the card and you need to have further cards to make any use of the ability. This is too narrow and falls into the bracket of a win more card and so will not be getting a slot in my cube. Not having flash itself also limits the places you might try to play this card.
Psychic Intrusion 1/10
A neat effect and sort of a Bribery for spells however spending five mana to do nothing to the board at all plus the kind of thing you can do for one mana to your opponent don't cut it at all. If you can afford the time and mana to play this you should have basically already won, playing this is probably helping to put them back in the game rather than helping your own cause!
Reaper of the Wilds 4/10
A very solid creature for the cost with useful abilities however I will not be bothering to include one of these in the cube. It doesn't do anything in particular, nor does it do anything you can't get in other ways more efficiently. Being gold the Reaper is going to be too infrequently played and basically just a high quality mid range filler card when it is.
Shipwreak Singer 2/10
A cheap and useful utility dork that you probably just wont have the time to make use of in the sort of deck where it would be good.
Spellheart Chimera 7/10
Well this is exactly the sort of threat control decks love. It is cheap, has some use early as a decent dork and will be able to end games brutally fast in the end game as it scales so well. Flying makes it good and trample makes it lovely. Having three toughness rather than X or X + 1 is I think also a perk to the card allowing it to function very well in the early game only at slight cost to the later scaling of the card. It is good enough to make it into many different kinds of deck and not just control. It is also in colours perfectly set up to maximise the power of the Chimera. It is slightly restrictive in where it can be played, not just for being gold but also demanding a certain quantity of instants and sorceries ideally complete with some extra ways of filling up graveyards such as Faithless Looting. This is less of a problem than it is for other kinds of cards as it is doing something distinct that other cards don't do in the cube while being of sufficient power to abuse and build around. I see this getting play in the kinds of role Psychatog used to fill as well as a top end threat in blue red tempo decks along with Delver of Secrets. Being able to attack with mana up and cards in hand will give you the air of having a combat trick all the time. If they block without taking this potential into account you have some serious blow out options with cards like Fact or Fiction instantly pumping the power by a few. Synergic, scaling, abusable, tricky, cheap and good value. As threats go this card has an awful lot going for it.
Steam Augury 6/10
This is fine but not quite worth the hype it is getting, and far more so the case in the cube. Four mana is a lot to spend in cube for something that has no impact on the board. If this, or Fact or Fiction were sorcery they would be barely playable. Frequently you get to four mana but are too far behind to be able to cast you card advantage spell, it is very depressing to die when you have mana for your Fact or Fiction for several turns but never get to play it. Fact or Fiction is at its best in Heartbeat of Spring style combo decks where the mana was far less of an issue and it was effectively a combo piece allowing you to further go off. As those kinds of decks lose viability so do the big draw spells lose some of their value in cube. Control decks often are better off playing creatures and planeswalkers to obtain card advantage as they also impact the board. They then run card quality spells instead of card advantage ones so things like Lat-Nam's Legacy instead of Fact or Fiction as they are so much cheaper. This leaves them far less vulnerable to losing tempo without hurting its card advantage. This is all to say that Fact or Fiction is a little overrated in the cube, certainly still one of the best raw card draw spells however the use and power of those is in relative decline. Now we can look to Steam Augury with our expectations a little more where they need to be. It is clearly worse than Fact or Fiction on three accounts by my reckoning. Firstly it is harder to cast with more coloured mana symbols, secondly it is narrower as there are less UR decks than there are mono blue ones and finally it has a weaker effect. The difference is quite subtle and sometimes you will be able to get more out of this card than you could from a Fact or Fiction through good use of bluff but for the most part it is going to get you a slightly worse deal than Fact will. The reason for this is fairly simple, you have to make a choice first then your opponent gets the final one. This means you have less information to make your choice and they get a little bit more therefore leading to worse and better choices made respectively. All these three factors making it worse than Fact are reasonably minor but they do add up. Given a choice I would never play Augury over Fact much like I wouldn't play a Searing Spear over an Incinerate. Despite all this negativity the card is still plenty powerful enough for cube and is also a card I am fond of mostly for the interesting choices it will offer as well as the cool mind games potential.
Triad of Fates 1/10
Versatile and fairly powerful but let down by taking way too long to get much done and just being rather clunky.
Tymaret, the Murder King 3/10
Tymaret needed a slightly better combat body to be interesting. Something like first strike would have probably done it. Although he is a two drop with a good amount of reach and utility and not the worst tempo stats he isn't going to get much done in cube against any other sort of creatures that might get cast in the early turns. The cost of his effects stops them being all that powerful and while both quite nice neither are really worth playing the card for a lot like the various Guildmages. As a complete package you have a nicely costed card that does a fair amount but on all accounts does not do enough in any one area to be worth it.
Underworld Cerebus 6/10
Initially I disregarded this as a fluffy flavour card that wasn't doing anything that specific or useful beyond being quite big. On closer inspection however it seems as it it is a cheap fatty that is incredibly hard to block, in most cases more so than a flier. That in itself is quite interesting but then you have a huge card advantage potential on the death of the Cerebus. The last ability is very minor and would almost be pointless if it were not for the fact if protects the mass Raise Dead and ensures you will get creatures back through Scavenging Oozes and the like. Being a scary and reliable reliable threat as well as a reliable source of card advantage packaged in this value five mana card probably make it cube worthy despite seeming a little mid range and being an awkward gold card.
Xenagos the Reveler 7.5/10
This looks to be the best gold planeswalker printed to date for the cube. I am a huge fan of Garruk Wildspeaker to which Xenagos is highly comparable. Having powerful and cheap options on either dorks or mana gives you immense versatility and security with your planeswalker as well as more tempo than can be got from most other walkers. I love to ramp into a turn three Garruk and then just untap some lands and flop out a fairly decent creature in the same turn, you feel so far ahead having made two different types of threat. Garruk is always threatening and always helpful and so while he may not have the same raw power as some of the other top walkers he has consistently been in my top five planeswalkers for the cube. So how does Xenagos compare? He has a plus one mana ability which both fixes and ramps. It is less reliable than Garruks and less effective in the early game which overall make it slightly worse however it does not take much for it to be utterly abusive. In the right deck you will simply be able to use the mana advantage of Xenagos to take the win which Garruk rarely achieves. It also has some really nice redundancy with cards like Gaea's Cradle and Rofellos enabling you to somewhat rely on having some extreme ramp available to you. Both planeswlakers make token dorks as their second effect and 3/3s are better than 2/2s however I would have to say that Xenagos takes the gold medal over Garruk on this effect and by a much bigger margin than the first. Haste makes up a little for the size discrepancy in the tokens and makes Xenagos slightly better when you are the aggressor. While obviously worse as a way to protect the planeswalker the fact that you need to pay no loyalty to make them means you are typically losing less ground. Most of the time you will trade off with something small or chump something huge and so defensively the size difference is much less relevant than the loyalty cost difference. On top of this the making of tokens scales very well with Xenagos's mana ability resulting in a very complimentary, cheap, useful and rounded package of main abilities. Garruk is rare in that he has a fairly frequently used, as well as being game ending, ultimate ability. Most walkers cast their ultimates so infrequently they are basically negligible. Xenagos falls into this category where you rarely use his ultimate as you prefer to have him on safe loyalty/alive and would rather just carry on making dorks and mana, it should still also win the game and is far less of a risk to take. The ultimate is a way to get a big pile of advantage out of the card in one go and is fairly cheap to cast so is worth having even if it not why the card is exciting. Garruk is the more reliable and more rounded card than Xenagos but the Reveler is not that far behind. He may lose out a bit on consistency and playability but he makes back a lot of ground with raw power.
Akroan Horse 1/10
Pricey and slow but a somewhat different effect and lovely flavour to boot.
Burnished Hart 5/10
I am not entirely sure what to make of this card, it is card advantage, ramp and fixing on a reasonably priced dork. It is not a million miles away from a Yavimaya Elder yet is available to other colours not normally equipped with the ability to up their land count. It is quite mana intense to trigger this guy but can be used to keep a bit of pace with tempo as you go about doing so. It is also a little vulnerable to rely on early game for its ability but I think it could have a place in slower non green control decks backing up things like Palladium Myr and Solemn Simulacrum.
Pyxis of Pandemonium 1/10
Another flavour based card that is quirky but not worth playing. It does nothing until you have seven mana, requires you to have used it a fair amount before sacrificing it and is symmetrical in what it does. Although it could do powerful things your deck will be fairly awkward looking if you are trying to maximise its effect.
Witch's Eye 1/10
Sadly the various costs on this seemingly cheap card add up to make it way too expensive. If two, perhaps one of the ability, cost and equip were zero mana instead of one the card would be more in the realms of cube viable.
Nykthos, Shrine to Nyx 6/10
Having the ability to tap for colourless mana makes this card incredibly playable. It will be the most used ability on the card by a significant margin. You simply won't have the devotion to generate mana with the Shrine most of the time during your average game of magic and so the colourless mana will be most welcome stopping you from having a dead card. At devotion three you have a really awful coloured land, at devotion four you have a slightly clumsy yet powerful two for one land and at five or more devotion you start to have a dangerously abusive land. Not that many different decks are going to reliably have four or five devotion in the mid and late game, even undisrupted. This makes Nykthos a fairly specific card but a very interesting one. It will punish the greedy player but only a little while it will greatly reward those who get it right on the few suitable occasions for the card. It is almost certainly restricted to mono decks or at least those with only the smallest of splashes. It also demands a deck that can make a high number of permanents, ideally cheap high colour intensity ones (such as Necropotence or Rofellos) as well as a deck that can abuse an large influx of mana. White weenie can get a high devotion quickly however it is far less able to utilize the mana and is a less likely candidate than a creature based green ramp deck. Cards like Mikeaus the Lunarch and Mirror Entity will help allow white weenie decks to abuse the mana from Nykthos so I wouldn't rule it out for that archetype, just be mindful you need to fulfil all the criteria to make the card good, just one or two won't help.
Temple of Various Coloured Scry Lands 5/10
I could put these in my cube and they would see a healthy amount of play, likely above average. I already have an absurd quantity of dual lands in my cube, the vast majority of those are strictly better than these yet people would still be happy to pick and play these in addition. Increasing the consistency of your mana base is going to make your deck better and it isn't really costing you slots as for the most part you don't need basic lands and the duals will just replace those. In reality these lands would do most to aid two colour decks as I have enough land to comfortably cover three or more colour decks when they are only 40 cards to a deck however the more limited you make the format the more the weaker dual lands will do to improve the consistency of all kinds of multi colour deck. Coming into play tapped is a huge drawback for a land, especially in the cube however a free scry is exactly the kind of perk you want on your cards. This cycle of lands do more to increase the consistency of your deck than any others under most normal circumstances. I wish they had the option to come into play untapped but then give your opponent the scry instead of you or even something duller like being pain lands instead of entering the battlefield tapped. Like that they would be straight in most cubes however as they are I suspect they will be too slow and look to unexciting in comparison to man lands, powerful utility lands and bounce lands which will eat up the number of slots you can afford to have for lands that come into play tapped. I am most inclined to add just the off colour ones to even things up a little due to having only allied man lands and Mirage sac lands.
Overall Theros is a very high powered set with much higher numbers of cube potential cards than most sets. It is somewhat lacking in the totally nuts cards that greatly impact the cube environment such as Deathrite Shaman or Snapcaster Mage. The best new cards are gold and therefore will see a little less play as a result and both bestow and heroic are mechanisms that are too limited focused to be significant in cube which both further reduce the overall impact this high power set will have. The design and flour of the set is top rate and will make playing with the new cards more fun which is after all the main aim of cubing and so I rate this set as win. I am particularly fond of the way in which so many of the high power cards have both control and agro aspects as it makes them far less generically broken auto includes while also encouraging great consideration in deck building.
Here are my top ten cube cards from Theros although many more will be being added to the cube, some just to test out for fun more than anything else with little expectation of them being a success with a surprising number of ones I expect to retain a cube slot as well.
10. Stormbreath Dragon
9. Polukranos, World Eater
8. Elspeth, Sun's Champion
7. Sylvan Caryatid
6. Spellher Chimera
5. Firedrinker Satyr
4. Soldier of the Pantheon
3. Hero's Downfall
2. Fleecemain Lion
1. Xenagos the Revealer