Sunday 8 November 2015
Commander 2015 Review
Kalemne, Deciple of Iroas - 2
This is a powerful dork for sure but it has so many problems with it for cube. The whole experience aspect of this card is drivel in isolation. You will not cast many 5+ cmc dorks period, let alone with this still in play. The best chance you have of this getting bigger is with other cards providing you with experience. Without the experience bit this card is still very powerful. It can hit for six, take out anything with 3 or less toughness without taking a scratch, scales doubly well with equipment and other pump, and holds the line while beating face. I find myself reminded of Hound of Griselbrand, Brimaz and Boros Reckoner. Critically those cards have one or more things Kalemne doesn't which make them all more playable and two of those cards are not in my main cube at present. Four mana is a big cut off point, it is where the planeswalkers and things come in in force. At three mana you can get away with cards that are just powerful dorks for the mana, at four your cards needs to be doing a whole lot more for you than that. The power difference between Brimaz and Kalemne probably isn't enough to justify a 1 mana cost difference but even if it were it still wouldn't be enough given where those two cards lie on the curve. Kalemne is gold making her a lot less playable. Not an issue in constructed but for draft this card is neither exciting nor powerful enough to merit inclusion in the cube. The biggest issue with Kalemne to my mind is that for four mana she brings nothing to the table right away. You get no haste action as you do with most of the top rate agressive 4 drop dorks. You get no immediate actionable effect like Sublime Archangle, Olivia Voldaren or Wolfir Silverheart. You get no value as you do from Solemn Simulacrum or Hound of Grisselbrand. You just get something that dies to almost any removal spell, mass or spot, while gaining no value in the process. Yes, sometimes you will cast it on a fairly empty board and find your opponent lacking answers and end the game swiftly there after. This is something you will do just as well with the top quality aggro three drops, Do that instead of playing this.
Banshee of the Dread Choir - 0
It is a shame myriad does nothing at all in 1 on 1 magic. I like the mechanic but for cube it is a blank and will be for all other cards with it on. I don't do multiplayer magic, one opponent is slow enough thanks all the same. I also like skill to be a significant factor in my games. Call me elitist, don't care. This card, even without the myriad doing anything is surprisingly decent. While not there for cube this will do a tonne of work for those brave souls involved in multiplayer magic.
Fiery Confluence - 8
This is quite the eye opener. I have read it several times to make sure I am not wrong about what it does before I splurge all over it. Although not quite as good Cryptic Command it is damn close. Power wise this is likely better than Cryptic it is just less useful and convenient and instant than the mighty Cryptic. All told this card gets it done and will do a lot of work in diversifying red. I really really love this card. You can wrath creatures or artifacts pretty well with this. You can take out planeswalkers with ease. You can just six someone to the face and give them the old good games. Then you can do a blend of some or all of those things as you need. Cryptic has six possible modes, Fiery Confluence has a whopping ten. Six to the face for four is such a powerful baseline for the card it doesn't really matter if your opponent has no <4 toughness dorks or artifacts in their deck, you still have a great spell. There are so many situations this card will either bail you brilliantly or close the game. That is a good pair of possible outcomes. It is cards like this that will allow red to branch out into more midrange and control decks should it wish.
Kalemne's Captain - 1
A decent big thing with a usefulish ability that is all just a bit to expensive and fair to see any cube play.
Scythclaw - 1.5
I don't really know what to make of this. It is quite cool to cheat about with a Stoneforge Mystic but ultimately it is a lot less potent than a Batterskull all round. Sure, you might hit for ten and then five if you get through. A 1/1 or just +1/+1 and a re-equip to another dork in play for 3 really are not getting it done in value terms or making the lose half their life portion of the card any more exciting or useful. The clock on this card is still quite slow compared to things that cost five mana and the board impact it has is a whole lot less. Interesting and different yes, cube worthy not so much.
Mizirek, Kraul Death Priest - 5.5
I am reminded of Vulturous Zombie. A five mana Golgari flyer you can hard abuse. This is smaller to start with but has a much much more potent effect that is also easier to trigger. This can give value right away and have it remain in effect should it be killed itself. You can easily trigger the effect with your own lands or potentially creatures although both need to be specific cards or have an outlet to sac them to. In the case of creatures you don't overly want to be saccing them off either because it reduces the value of the pumps. Either way, you don't need to have many creature or sac many things before this has done good work and is a scary threat itself. You could sit back on something like a Harrow as a combat trick or way of saving Mizirek, you can pack more edict effects as your removal options and grow your board while shrinking theirs. While I love the power, utility and synergy of this card I am aware it is a gold five mana threat that you need to build around somewhat so that it isn't just a Wind Drake. Certainly this has the power to deserve a cube slot and I will try it out at length. Sadly I fear it will get cut for space reasons leaving broader, if less powerful, cards in the five slots for green, black and golgari.
Kaseto, Orochi Archamge - 3.5
Not even sure this would be an auto include in a tribal snake deck! It is all a big Grey Ogre for my liking. Yes, you can close out games and be annoying as hell in combat but that all costs more mana and isn't gaining you card advantage or sensibly board advantage. The value of a combat trick is lost greatly when it is in play. The fact he can self pump makes him a fine stand alone card and not unlike a lot of the various black Shade cards. Compared to crud like Frozen Shade Kaseto has better starting stats, bonus unblockable, potential assists with other snake dorks and for the minor price of being in two colours and having bulkier increments of pump. Not quite as potent as Rashaka Deathdealer nor as direct as Nantuko Shade but in the same ball park. I guess the reason I think this is not so playable in cube is that it is just a three mana good dork you want to win the game with like Rablemaster, Geist of Saint Traft, Brimaz etc except that you have to spend mana on it. At least Nantuko Shade and Rashaka Deathdealer are two drops and can be used much more aggressively.
Mizzix of the Igmagnus - 1
While this could get silly fun it is mostly just super bad. Let us compare this to the humble Goblin Electromancer, a card with the same stats and much the same effect for two mana not four. I say much the same, obviously Electromancer's effect is just better as you can use it right away without having to gain experience. The value of colourless casting cost reduction diminishes a lot as well. At two mana I might consider playing this over Electromancer in the right deck. Three mana would be pushing it and four is just laughable. It gets a 1 just on the the off chance there are really good ways to gain experience so you can lay this with some already built up. Even then we still just have a pricey vulnerable Electromancer we probably wish was just an enchantment or something.
Daxos, the Retrurned - 1
More of the distinctive wiff of Grey Ogre about this card. The perk for your underrate body is a pricey token generator that requires you to be playing enchantments before it does anything at all and then again before it becomes at all good value for mana. At least the tokens are enchantments? So, just to be clear, before this card is at all good you have to have made it as a Grey Ogre, have it live long enough for you to cast at least one enchantment, then invest increments of 3 mana, prolly six or nine total, alongside casting more enchantments. This should give you say three 3/3's that didn't cost you cards. Basically, Call of the Herd is a whole world better than this and that gets precisely no play anymore.
Illusory Ambusher - 6
I like this card, it is somewhere between an Ice (of Fire fame), Jace's Ingenuity and a Shriekmaw. It isn't reliable removal nor is it cheap. Sometimes it isn't removal at all, then it is a bad fog in both scope and reliability. It should draw you cards most of the time and it will range between 2 and 6 mostly. Assume it draws cards 85% of the times you play it and 2 through 6 are reasonably even in their probabilities (they are not of course, they go down each time in likelihood however you could hit for like 15 so w/e, we will go with it for a very approximate idea). This means you are looking at 3.4 cards per cast on top of the damage prevention or removal. Sadly I would take 3 cards guaranteed over 3.4 with the chance on 0 for my five mana. I would likely take two which makes Mulldrifter look somewhat more appealing. Although a less consistent card than the Muldrifter I think this deserves a cube slot because it can be so utterly over powered and shouldn't ever wind up being totally awful or dead. It has flash and 4 power, you can just kill people with it after all!
Gigantoplasm - 1
This is not the Clone you are looking for. I give it a 1 out of 10 on the off chance there is some kind of neat combo with the effect it has on some particular obscure dork but I doubt it is at all good it if even exists.
Skullwinder - 3.5
This is a tricky one. Obviously cost and body wise it is quite a lot better than Eternal Witness but the effect has a nasty taint of symmetry about it. In a combo deck there is less chance of you caring about them getting a card back but it isn't no chance, it may still be a dead card because of that Force of Will you can't afford to let them have. You can also fire this off so fast as to give your opponent only bad options or even no option on a return. You could also do this with graveyard removal effects, your or even their delve stuff. There are lots of ways this can be better than Witness but I don't think any of them are that reliable nor is the Snake body that much better than the 2/1 that you would risk it. I am sure this still has a place somewhere but it shouldn't be a common one.
Ezuri, Claw of Progress - 2.5
Here we have a jumped up Hill Giant rather than the Grey Ogres we have been seeing so many of. Ezuri needs other dorks, not only to gain experience but also to pump. While Ezuri can have an effect on the game right away it is fairly unlikely. You need to already have experience or get a small dork into play on the same turn while having something else that can attack. Ezuri can be quite powerful in the right deck if he gets going but like Kalemne it does too little right away on a weak body for where he is on the curve. You might not need further mana investments as such but you do need other cards to support him. Not enough card here to excite me even if it were a mono coloured one.
Centaur Vinecrasher - 3
I quite liked this at first look but I have since gone off it rather. It is the aggressive version of Masked Admirers, a card that has never seen any love in the cube. A four mana dork with a two mana conditional recursion effect to hand. Vengevine is zero mana to return to play and is quite a lot more direct and standalone than either Vinecrasher or Admirers hence it being good and these seemingly quite a lot less so. For the two mana conditional return to hand to be an exciting bonus the starting creature has to be itself reasonably exciting and a generic trampler isn't really that. At 4/4 he is fine but not good, at 5/5 he is good but not something you are auto including. You need this to hit 6/6 before it is exciting and that is going to take quite a lot of work. Being aggressive it is important to be good on curve and you will be fairly lucky to have this as a 3/3 by then. All in all, the card doesn't do enough when in play, is a little pricey, rather linear and needs a little too much hand holding to perform at the required level.
Sandstone Oracle - 4.5
While I think this is probably a little too situational to be a main cube card I do rather like it and can see a selection of places this would fit very nicely. The body is fairly useful and the effect can be extreme. Yes it is seven mana which would normally rule out this kind of nonesense if it were a coloured creature but as a colourless artifact this holds far more potential. There are lots of ways to produce a lot of colourless mana, ways to cheapen artifacts or just put them into play all of which mean this card in reality is more comparable to a four or five drop in the right deck. Those decks are the kind of rampy, perhaps combo-y, ones which will dump their hands quickly and with ease and may even have symmetrical draw seven effects so as to ensure a big trigger from your Oracle. I suspect Memory Jar is one of the things this will compete with for spaces in decks. In the wrong deck this is going to be very bad. Slow, low power and unlikely to trigger for many if any cards should you live to play it.
Dream Pillager - 0.5
I love the idea but the execution is left wanting. I am not sure how this could be balanced better, Consecrated Sphinx power, toughness and costing would seem like a good starting point. Seven mana is way to much to pay for a 4/4 that does nothing unless it hits face. Actually, I think I like a 2RR 0/3 flier with firebreathing and this effect, more like a red Thieving Magpie then but well flavoured. Guess I will stick with boring old Prophetic Flamespeaker for now.
Dawnbreak Reclaimer - 5.75
So a six mana 5/5 flier is not the worst starting point for a card. Then you give it a very very powerful effect but make it symmetrical and abusable and you end up with a card that is very hard to evaluate. You can abuse this by either having only huge things in your bin or by ensuring your opponent has nothing, or at least very low powered things in theirs. Both of these situations should lead to you being well ahead on your six mana investment. Achieve both and you will be very far ahead! I have just spotted the may clause on the recursion which really makes this card pretty good. You don't have to go that heavy at all on working the graveyards because if you don't like the proposed returns you can simply opt not to do it. I like this a lot more than Reya Dawnbringer, a safer more reliable version of this that was so over cost you only ever cheated it into play. This bad boy is totally fine to just be cast and leave it to do its magic. I think I also prefer this to Sun Titan. The bodies are comparable but I think the smaller flier is more dangerous and affords more utility in games. Both trigger once per your turn starting with the turn you make them but there after Reclaimer doesn't need to attack to get the effect and can just sit safely back on d. The thing with Sun Titan is that he often ends up not doing all that much. He is a bit too easy to group block and take down which means you have spent 6 mana to get two 3 mana things back, deal 6 damage to a selection of dorks of your opponents choosing (divided as you choose though!) and perhaps hold off one turns worth of ground based attacks. That sounds good but turns out it just isn't enough stuff and not usefully presented. Decks that make six drop dorks don't have that many 3 or less cmc permanents to recur. You get a Wall back and draw a card, maybe you ramp a land from the bin. Brimaz is a great get back but if your 6/6 vigilance isn't winning it then your 3/4 one isn't adding that much extra to things. Sun Titan is a whole lot of power but it very restricted and contained. Both this and Sun Titan require some work in building around them (and so Elspeth, Sun's Champion will firmly remain the premier white six drop for now) but Reclaimer has so much more scope in the ways you can use and abuse it that I will be trying this out a whole lot and hoping it remains in the main cube. I want to make this and see my opponent squirm at the choice between Grave Titan and Atarka or something equally obnoxious. You can have the Birds back mate.
Ezuri's Pradation - 3.5
Phew, this can do some work. Against decks with lots of medium and small creatures this is simply always going to be game over. Wrath you, make a total army, gg. Against other decks this will do painfully little. You have a Baneslayer in play, my 8 mana spell gives you 5 life and does nothing else. Incredibly powerful but just too situational both for this kind of effect as well as for an 8 mana card.
Awaken the Sky Tyrant - 0.5
Meh. Tokens are too killable and a conditional 4 mana thing isn't getting it done. This needs some serious enchantment synergy to be any sort of consideration.
Seal of the Guildpact - 2
Great design and a powerful card but far far too much mana for a cost reducer. I will stick to my Familiars, Medallions, and Helm of Awakening thanks.
Deadly Tempest - 3
I want a bit more utility on my six mana Wrath than a little bit of incidental damage. If I am Wrathing I am controlling and if I am doing that I don't really care about the so called perk of this card. At five and with the lack of good Wraths in black this might have made it. At six I will find spicier alternatives.
Dread Summons - 0.5
Despite clearly being a lot more powerful in multiplayer formats there is some potential for this card in cube, all be it small. Assuming both players are packing roughly a third creatures you are looking at a fairly poor return on your mana in terms of board development. At five you will get about 2 dorks, at 8 mana you are looking at 4, hardly good token generation. You have a chance to hit perfect and get a decent amount of value but your odds on hitting nothing are going to much greater. The only time I really see this being a consideration is when you want to mill your opponent and yourself. There are other ways to mill everyone that are much more mana efficient however they are dead on their own while this does at least do a useful thing too. Sadly, most of the decks you want to mill your opponent in don't have that many dorks in them themselves...
Verdant Confluence - 4
Not quite as pokey as the red offering but not without its charms. Certainly it is very powerful but I am not sure where I would want it nor where it would be able to shine best. All the options are good and pretty much any of the possible 10 options represents good value for six mana and one card. Sadly my conclusion is that this shouldn't be a main cube card. It is a bit pricey for what you want from these kinds of cards in much the same way that Prophetic Bolt sees almost no play. The effects are a tiny bit awkward and don't have that synergy with each other. Counters are decent, they let you shape the board so your creatures are favourable in combat and gain tempo but as they are sorcery there is no trickery possible nor does it offer any direct card advantage and could lead to disaster if appropriate removal is at hand for your opponent. Lands are getting a lot less useful by six mana and only being able to find basics is a real bummer. It means you cannot do any of the cool stuff you can do with Primeval Titan and it also means a lot of the time you won't have any or enough targets for your Confluence. Finally Regrowth for permanent cards, great but awful tempo and a little bit win more. Regrowth and the like get back anything which can be spells, which are typically what you need to deal with things or get back into a game. Sure, getting three things back will likely win you any game that has gone to top deck but then that is exactly what six drops should do. I will try it because it is power and choices but I fear it is never getting into any list over a powerful creature or planeswalker in that cost area.
Mirror Match - 2.5
Powerful but like the green Wrath attempt, a bit too situational. This might be better than Aetherspouts but that card proved to be inadequate for what you needed it to do and this has all the same limitations. You might luck out and get a whole bunch of entering and leaving play triggers from the guys while taking out all the attackers which is likely going to be of game ending significance. You might equally kill nothing and get nothing in return, just a six mana Fog. Yummy. Also, lest we not forget how easy it is to spot a Cryptic when you are about to attack into one. You just know they have to have something else they super dead, it might not actually be fatal but it would be too much to handle. This would be much the same, oh look, you have six mana up and don't seem too scared about my totally fatal attack. Perhaps I'll go for a two turn clock instead and attack with just these safe dorks? Oh dear, your six mana spell is bad.
Mizzix's Mastery - 6.5
This is all a bit Mind's Desire for my liking. Eight to overload is significantly more than six to desire but you have a four mana option as well as knowing and being able to setup what you will cast with the Mastery as well as not having to have generated any storm. All in all this seems very powerful. There are a lot of decks with a lot of spells that if cast for 3R would be incredibly powerful. Cards like Upheaval, Time Spiral and the previously mentioned Mind's Desire. This is a card I expect to see almost all of its play in the abusive decks that don't like to play fair. In more typical midrange, aggro or control decks it will be harder to setup, have less exciting targets and have less chance on using both modes to good effect. The overload mode needs two things to be good, firstly 8 mana, the hard bit, and secondly some useful cards to recast together from the yard. That could be lots of burn, it could be some specific things that setup a win, it could be lots of Rituals to cast something even more mental, it might just be some boring storm things into a win, you have many directions. The four mana mode is more like a Reanimate effect, ideally you want to set it up by having a big powerful spell you got into the yard without having to cast it. Time Stretch as a good example of something to have Mastery over! I think for the card to really shine you want to play in a deck where you can expect both modes to be of use.
Magus of the Wheel - 7
So, the big problem with Wheel of Fortune was that it is a 3 mana sorcery. It sits in your hand dead until you have basically used everything else, then you cast it and have three less mana to do your new things with. Then you pass to your opponent who gets to do all their new stuff with all their mana. Magus of the Wheel can be safely and reasonably cast on curve. A Trained Armaddon in red isn't the worst in any sort of deck. Then, at any convenient point you can cash in your 3/3 and get seven new spells for two mana. You can do this at the end of their turn so as to save the two mana. All in all a very powerful effect presented in a convenient package that will never be dead and that affords good options. In the more standard midrange, control and aggro this will see considerably more play than Wheel of Fortune did or will. As for combo the direct Wheel is probably still the way to go but both is certainly an option! This card is golden for RDW, it makes Dark Confidant look pretty limp. I cannot think of many games at all where Confidant has drawn seven or more cards. Confidant is a weaker dork that is easier to ping to death, offers a slow influx of cards for a life cost. Magus is reasonably robust for a 3 drop, gives a huge influx of card at the cost of refilling your opponents hand. If I use my hand in RDW and then get seven more cards I feel like I have won, even if I give you seven more too. Great card, great depth for red again. I am looking forward to playing with this. It feels old school powerful but with built in modern safety!
Anya, Merciless Angel - 3
While considering this card I imagined it in combat with a Baneslayer Angel controlled by a player between 5 and 9 life. The outcome of that isn't exclusive to that specific interaction and is the reason I am not a big fan of this card. It is simply way to easy to dodge the big indestructible thing and blow out your opponents plans. When you are playing red and you have someone on 9 or less life you don't think, ooh, I can make a five drop without haste that is good value and hard to kill. You think, I wish I had another two points of burn in hand or on the top of my deck because then it is game over. This is one of those fairly linear expensive threats that is of sufficient power to merit a cube slot but that has no real home and therefor wouldn't see much play at all. In a control deck a 5 mana 7/7 indestructible flier is a lot more interesting but then a control deck is not readily getting their opponents below 10 life and then you have a card worse than Sera Angel...
Great Oak Guardian - 5.5
This seems incredibly powerful and quite versatile. It blocks and kills most things in the cube, it is a mini Overrun on legs, it is a combat trick. It can even be mana ramp in the right deck! You can even just flop it out as a 4/5 threat at the end of your opponents turn. Not great value for mana but might be exactly what you need to be doing. Probably this is only getting play in creature based green ramp decks in which case it might be a little too much on the narrow side. It certainly isn't game over like Craterhoof is. I am a touch wary as it seems to be another six mana utility card and typically you want your more expensive cards including the utility ones to also be of high raw isolated power. This needs support to be powerful but not exactly onerous support, just having guys is the thing. Once you have the support this card seems do offer as much or more as most other cube 6 drops.
Arachnogenesis - 4
Powerful but a little narrow. I think Moment's Peace offers more utility in these kinds of lines. Let's be honest, this is a funky Fog and not a token generator. Too often this would get a single spider and be awful if you were relying on having spiders around. Certainly it has the capacity to utterly wreak token or weenie decks. This card is the anti aggro equivalent of Caller of the Claw. You get Wrathed and Caller and you probably win. You get smacked with a hoard or weenies and tokens, Arachnogenesis is likely as much of a win. I am not sure this holds enough value in the situations it is not so powerful in to get a cube slot sadly. Against midrange and control most of the time it will be dead or really low value and that doesn't cut it. There are not enough archetypes that actively want to Fog that this could find a home in.
Meteor Blast - 3
At first I liked this a lot but then I came to realise it is actually just a really expensive Searing Blaze. For an X spell this has substantially less good scaling or flexibility than most. Four damage for four mana is better than most X burn spells will do but it isn't exactly good. Not being able to do 5 to something is pretty annoying on your expensive spell. It makes it far less likely you are taking out loads of good stuff. The primary target you get might be a 4/4 but odds on the rest of the things you can hit have >4 toughness or are like 1/1 tokens and therefor don't represent good value for mana upon killing. You want to use this with X being at least 2 otherwise it is bad value but then it is getting really overpriced for what it is. At five or six mana this is not even close to reliable enough removal. Perhaps if it were instant.
Aethersnatch - 4
The most reliable of the Desertion / Commandeer style cards but still a six mana Counterspell. These effects can be incredibly swingy but I don't see there being enough room in most decks to afford this kind of thing. Control decks are tight, you need smooth curve, power density and have a minimum threat count all of which Aethersnatch will hurt. The card can single handedly win games and has massive power potential with the big however that it is the kind of card I would only play when I have an awful deck and think I can only win games by luckily stealing them.
Scourge of Nel Toth - 4
Hard to say with with one. Very powerful in the right deck and deeply poor outside of that environment. A 6/6 flyer is a good thing, at seven mana it is not. In order for this to perform well you have to get it into your graveyard and then have small sacrificial dorks to bring it into play for the far more reasonable cost of BB. It is both a dragon and a zombie which give it some minor bonus synergies but mostly you just want discard outlets or perhaps Buried Alive for this bad boy. While I think this will be very strong when in the right deck it is a bit forced. The cube is best served when the majority of the cards can hold their own on their own. Narrow as it is I suspect we are ultimately looking at a B cube card. The support it has is very good, things like Liliana, Bloodghast, Bloodsoaked Champion etc. which goes a long way in helping alleviate the narrow issue. Black is a little aimless as a main colour these days so perhaps pushing it in a direction is what it needs?
Meren of Clan Nel Toth - 7
One of the best cards in the collection and exactly the thing Golgari decks want to populate their four slot. This is an uncondiational Oversold Cemetery on decent legs that triggers the turn you make it. A 4 mana 3/4 isn't great value for mana but it is a good size to be nominally. You outlive most of the cheap removal and dorks as well as the midrange utility creatures. Compare 4 mana 3/4 of Meren to 3 mana 2/1 of Eternal Witness and the quality of the body is more apparent. Yes, Meren only gets creatures but she does it every turn and really needs to die sharpish else the game is going to be over. This is all assuming you never gain any experience from Meren, as stuff starts to get dead she starts to get more obnoxious! Meren is fully cube worthy without any of the experience bits. It is easy to exploit the recursion, easy to power up experience and just makes the card that extra bit more juicy and powerful.
Synthetic Destiny - 1
Overkill really, there are better ways to do this effect and broadly speaking it isn't that good of a combo in cube even with the better cards.
Pathbreaker Ibex - 4
Craterhoof Behemoth's little brother! While the power and usefulness of this dork is pretty high it lacks a critical component compared to Craterhoof. Ibex has to live to attack and can be killed or tapped before you get your alpha strike. With a reliable mechanism to give it haste you have a very potent spell that might well outperform Overrun yet you can still play in decks than couldn't realistically run the 8 drop Behemoth. Very few decks will be able to give this the haste it needs and so I don't see it being too playable.
Corpse Auger - 1.5
Limp body, unpredictable effect with wild scaling that makes it unreliable and even dangerous. It can do nothing, it can kill you. There are certainly places it represents huge power and in which you can easily exploit it however that leaves it rather narrow. If I want to draw cards for life in black I can do so a lot more easily than this thing.
Karlov of the Ghost Council - 3.5
An odd little chap we have here. You need the support for this guy, without life gain he is a do nothing gribbly. With lifegain in abundance you have a two drop that can quickly become huge without any specific further investment on the card itself. The removal ability is weird and shouldn't come up too often. Usually an 8/8 is getting it done for you. There are not many creatures in the cube where you gain tempo from killing them and turning your 8/8 into a 2/2. I suspect the majority of times the effect is used is in response to a removal effect just to get some extra value before you lose your threat. Like Scourge of Nel Toth, this is very powerful in the right deck but it probably too narrow to run in the main cube unless you force it with sufficient support cards.
Daxos' Torment - 5
Yet more incredibly powerful narrow cards! You almost get enough value from one hit with this for it to be worth it. Thundermaw often only needs the 1 hit to close a game. Black also has surprising depth of playable enchantments including the mighty recastable Recurring Nightmare. With enough enchantments this should be an auto include in most decks but I am not sure what that number is and if such a deck would be viable. Broadly speaking two further enchantments after you cast Torment should be enough for it to end the game. You could get away with six or so enchantments to do this but ideally you would want over ten and that seems impractical. Ultimately this is another one of those cards that lets you focus areas of your cube, push the support for them and keep things fresh. Only pack this if you have some enchantment themes on the go and an above average enchantment count in your cube. Daxos' Torment, Karlov of the Ghost Council and Scourge of Nel Toth are all such cards but this does seem like the most viable to run in a standard good cards cube of the three.
Bloodspore Thrynax - 0
Too expensive, slow and onerous in setup costs.
Righteous Confluence - 5.5
Better than the green one, worse than the other three. While knights are always good the life and the enchantment removal are more situational. Knights are also a bit clunky, they are best suited to an aggro deck which usually doesn't want to go past four mana and would rather something like a Cloudgoat Ranger for some evasion. Being sorcery is annoying too as it makes it far less appealing as a control card. Less appealing as it might be that should be where it gets most of its play as it does things that control the game and has the versatility needed in control lists. One thing I will say for this monster is that 15 life for 5 mana is an insane chunk and will be horrific for red decks to contend with. While it may be fairly good it is boring as all hell. Primal Command used to see a lot of play before Bow of Nylea stole its thunder. Mostly that was for library sustain in the control matches however it proved potent as 7 life far more often. It might offer less utility than Primal Command but it certainly offers much more power.
Thought Vessel - 4
I love the card but in reality it isn't doing enough for you to get played over a colour producing two drop artifact ramp card of which there are many or the humble Mind Stone. Unlimited handsize is rarely relevant and even on the odd occasion it comes into play it is rarely that significant. Great, you get to keep 4 bonus unwanted lands after your Upheaval....
Arjun, the Shifting Flame - 2
Not quite enough monster to go with the cost and the effect for this to be a cube thing. The effect is quite potent, especially in a 40 card deck, you will have great scope to find the things you need while stacking your library. As a two mana combo card this effect would be extreme, on a six drop 5/5 fatty it ins't and reliable or useful as a Consectrated Sphinx.
Mystic Confluence - 8
My my my. We have the big brother of Cryptic Command and it is impressively close in terms of how good it it. Confluence is more powerful but Command is far more versatile. I am also a big fan of the design of Confluence as it can be a high value soft counter or you can lower the value to improve the hardness of your counter. You can Evacuate their team, you can Jace's Ingenuity, Lovely. A lot of the Confluences feel like they are all of a planeswalker at once, you cast it, get 3 activations and it is gone rather than going through the rigmorale of doing all that over three turns. Being instant is therefore much more like having a Teferi emblem in play for your planeswalker! I see this taking the spot of filler planeswalkers and Fact or Fiction a lot. It is too expensive to really consider a counterspell alone and only a stop gap in terms of removal. It is also one of the better blue answers to storm decks as playable countermagic goes.
Rite of the Raging Storm - 0
Not a cube card but lovely design for a multiplayer one at least.
Thief of Blood - 4
This is Wrath of Planeswalkers on legs. It is a super Vampire Hexmage. Sadly I think it is ultimately and expensive sorcery speed removal spell that is too situational to be playable blind. It is rare to be facing down more than one planeswalker but at even just one walker you are kind of getting a two for one with Thief. Due to the popularity of tokens and how much they are found coming from planeswalkers I think I would generally prefer Aethersnap in my deck and there is presently little call for that card in cube. Thief of Blood is powerful, swingy and does a somewhat exclusive thing but it just doesn't seem that pickable or playable.
Oreskos Explorer - 4
This is a calm version of Knight of the White Orchid. For a 1W cost instead of a WW one you lose the ability to put the plains into play and you lose the first strike. Losing both of those makes this card a little underpowered for cube. It is because the getting of the planes is conditional and generally relies on you going second, getting stitched or being late game to trigger. Explorer is much more powerful in the multiplayer setting and sadly seems a little bland for one on one cube.
Wretched Confluence - 7
Despite the lovely and unexpected instant speed of this Confluence I think I prefer the red one. The red one has more direction and purpose to it while this is just a collection of stuff. The only disruption or really interaction offered by Wretched Confluence is from the Disfigure modes. Unlike Mana Leak on Mystic Confluence which should usually only need on use to counter a spell the Disfigure will often need two or all three options to kill the offending card. Spending five mana to kill something like a Titan is not great and shouldn't be getting you ahead. It will be nice to kill three things with this but odds on if you do you will be mana down. This kills most tokens, almost all one drops and most two drops but at five mana, even if you get a three for one on killing stuff the odds are you have taken a kicking from them already. Disfigure effect is also only relevant to creatures, and so for a versatile expensive spell you don't get that much in the way of broad protection. You cannot go attacking their hand with this card which would be of far more use against control decks. Most of what Wretched Confluence seems to be is a card draw spell as two thirds of the modes draw cards. You either get powerful, known and needed things back from the bin or you dig into your deck of unknowns for a life a go. This pairing of card draw effects makes this a more potent draw tool than Mystic Command but black isn't overly lacking in that area. Wretched does somewhat posses and extra mode over the over Confluences however in that draw one lose one mode is targetable. Of the wins I get with Death Cloud I would say around half are just as a really bad BBBX Fireball that hits us both. I can see this being used as a bad Lightning Bolt in much the same way to close out games. It doesn't even really matter that it is such bad value when you do it because it ends the game, value is of no consequence when the game is over, there is no bonus credit for the in game efficiency of the spells. As such, any card that has a situational win the game clause that is not part of the main function of the card is significantly improved through having that effect regardless of other ways in which the same winning effect could be done cheaper or better with other cards. Confluence is a powerful and safe card but it lacks the versatility of the other Confluences. Despite being instant it still managed to have a slightly clunky black feel about it. A strong card for sure but if I am not sure how often it will win out for deck slots over cards like Ob Nixilus Reignited.
The Top Cards From Commander 2015
1. Mystic Confluence
2. Fiery Confluence
3. Magus of the Wheel
4. Wretched Confluence
5. Meren of Clan Nel Toth
6. Mizzix's Mastery
7. Illusory Ambusher
8. Dawnbreak Reclaimer
9. Great Oak Guardian
The top five are all lock ins for the A cube, the other 4 have a reasonable shot of staying in the A cube. There are a decent bunch of other cards I will try out and quite like but that are ultimately B cube cards or occasional cards through needed to much in the say of support. There are some really lovely cards in this set, some exciting ones that spice up some old school decks that rarely get any new love these days. Some great design, some high power. Compared to last years commander sets I think we will end up with far less cube mainstays from the 2015 but it is about quality not quantity!