Monday, 16 October 2017
Energy (non-Aetherworks) .dec
With all the recent success of Temur energy decks in standard at the moment I thought it was high time to design a cube version of the deck. I have used energy mechanics in cube before but in an Aetherworks Marvel build. While it was some of the most fun I have had playing cube I did get rather stomped. Marvel is too demanding and too narrow of a combo for cube. While you can get it just about workable it is very low tier and likely just a directly worse deck than multiple alternate combo options. While the non-combo energy cards are a whole lot fairer and less abusive than Marvel they are at least more redundant and work better with non-energy cards. Just having decent cards with an energy theme is likely the best way to use energy in cube. Most block mechanics fail in cube due to the lack of depth. I think the general high power level and reasonable stand alone ability of the cards in the energy deck give it a better chance than most. It certainly won't be an affinity but I expect it to be competitive. If you could run multiple Whirler Virtuoso and Longtusk Cube I think the deck would actually start to look good. They are clearly the best energy payoff cards being cheap, proactive, decent stand alone deals and able to spend energy at instant speed. I have tried to compensate for a scarcity in these cards as you shall see in the list.
Attune with Aether
Birds of Paradise
Servant of the Conduit
Fire / Ice (or Coiling Oracle)
Nissa, Voice of Zendikar
Aethertorch Renegade / Architect of the Untamed
Rishkar, Peema Renegade
Glimmer of Genius
11 More non-basic duals!
I opted for a land light build as this deck has little in the way of mana sinks. Flooding out is going to be more damaging than being low on mana. There are certainly some cards you could add in that would improve your situation when flooding. Walking Ballista is an obvious example but there are many more. I looked at some of the energy Module cards as potentials but they are only good when you have excess mana, they are pretty weak prior to that point.
The cascade cards are an easy include for this deck which I would class as a tempo midrange deck. You don't have to hurt your build much to include them. You don't really want countermagic any way. They will often cascade into energy cards and feel like synergy plays. They do make pump spells worse which in turn makes a couple of things like Electrostatic Pummeler less interesting. Given that the cascade dorks are some of the best cards in magic I don't think we will miss the silly Pummeler which is more of a combo thing anyway.
The thing that felt like it tied this deck together was the proliferate! It is cute that it gives you energy if you have one already but far more relevantly it pumps all your dorks with +1/+1 counters on them which is rather a lot of them. I was rather short on good energy playables, the deck was already a little bit mixed with cards like Voltaic Brawler and Glimmer of Genius. Adding in more energy cards was just going to turn into a random pile of cards with no direction. Just having "energy" on the card doesn't give you direction, you need to have a plan on your route to victory and your cards all need to work towards that goal. By filling out the last part of the deck with a couple of proliferate cards and a couple of good stand alone +1/+1 counter dorks I was able to keep a higher overall power level, keep the synergy between the cards looking impressive and all without going off theme from a midrange tempo build.
I did get a little bit excited with the proliferate idea to start with and was looking at Thrumming Bird and Hardened Scales! While this are very powerful synergy cards they both stink on their own and that is well worth avoiding where possible. This deck looks like it has enough to carry its own weight without having to lean on getting specific abusive card pairings on the go. Throne of Geth would be one of the most efficient proliferators on offer if you did want to go more down that route as you have a number of servos easily generated. Aether Swooper would very much come in if that was your plan.
Even with the good and on theme energy, +1/+1 counter and proliferate cards this deck was still a little bit short. I just padded it out with some generic gold "good anywhere" cards and some premium one drops. They help a little with the curve and power level and are fairly replaceable. I have offered up the best cards in those couple of slots but any of the less good one mana burn and ramp would be OK to. Ideally I would have more synergy cards I could use but it is rare to have many of those in the low CMC end.
One of my concerns for this deck is ability to close the game. It is fine when it just rolls people as it will with good draws or against bad ones as is that case with any tempo deck. The issue is when you get into longer games. As discussed, this deck already suffers from land being less use late game. This can be compensated for with creature and utility lands to some extent but it will hurt your speed or your consistency to do so and is especially dangerous to do so heavily in a 15 land deck. Fliers or a single dork getting excessively big are the ways this deck wins once the game goes longer. While these can and will get the job done some of the time they will also fall short sometimes too. Wrath effects will punish this list fairly hard. Having the bigger flier or an endless supply of chumps also fairly well counters this deck's win mechanisms in the mid and late game. Aethertide Whale is a really solid card to give you a lot of extra reach and game closing potential. It is super safe but it is also a six drop. To include it I would make this more of a slower value midrange deck and go upto 16 lands.
Aethertorch Renegade and Architect of the Untamed were presented as an option on either. These are my concessions to lacking a good finisher and to having too few Cubs and Virtuoso. I really wanted to throw in Den Protector style cards and Traverse the Ulvenwald simply to increase the time I would have access to such cards! Any way, both Aethertorch Renegade and Architect of the Untamed are rather unknown quantities, I have never played with or against either nor ever seen them being used. One is bigger, the other provides more energy right away. One has more early utility, the other more late game utility and value. I suspect the Renegade is the more useful overall despite being smaller and ultimately less value. While 6/6s are all big and fat they are not really solving any problems. Six in the face is reach and it is planeswalker control. Seems a bit weak but it also seems like it is probably what you need more. One issue is simply a lack of sufficient energy generation. Getting 8 or even 16 energy is not going to be an easy thing. It will be slow and take a lot of the utility away from your other energy cards. You could play more things like Puzzleknots and Empyreal Voyager but then you are putting in weak stand alone cards again. Perhaps Architect of the Untamed will be better in practice as it can generate a lot of energy over a long enough time.
The draw spells in the deck are a little out of place given that this is supposed to be a tempo deck. Glimmer simply seems too powerful to not play when we are short on energy cards. Gambit is also pretty cheap and could be a massive tempo swing should you have sufficient countered up dorks! Having draw effects does make up a little bit for lacking mana sinks. Perhaps more contained cards like Dack Fayden would be better. I shall certainly leave a comment once I get round to playing with this deck highlighting the stinkers and the bombs. I look forward to playing with it, lots of interesting cards which I have had very little experience with and that offer a wealth of options sounds like a lot of fun.