Sunday, 26 November 2017
How Much Disenchant?
Sorry for bad title, couldn't think of a concise way to phrase the aim of this article. I was asked how much in the way of Disenchant effects one should look to run in a cube. Obviously with this being Magic there is rarely a short answer. For starters the question really needs breaking up into four parts. Specifically how much enchantment removal and how much artifact removal, both for powered and unpowered cubes?
Typically you find enchantment counts around the 5-6% mark for both powered and unpowered cubes. Artifacts are typically a higher count and also jump to a higher percentage makeup of cubes when they are powerd. An unpowered cube is typically 8-10% artifacts and a powered cube is going to be about half again on top of that, so a 12-15% artifact makeup. This gives some indication of how many targets there are out there for your Disenchant effects. As Disenchant hits both we can add these percentages together and get a range of 13% to 21% potential targets. This might sound like a healthy number but it is under half the range of targets a Terminate will hit in a cube. Creatures sit nearer the 40% mark in most cubes and I wasn't including man lands, token generators, vehicles or other non-creature cards that will ultimately provide targets for creature only removal.
It is not just the low density of targets that is the issue for Disenchant effects but also the even lower frequency of high value targets. Artifact especially have a pretty low occurrence of things you can and want to hit with spot removal. Mostly it is Vedalken Shackles and Umezawa's Jitte. Those two cards are the main reason I want artifact removal in many archetypes. There are others that it is nice to be able to kill but none that are so hard to beat. When actually looking at the common cards in cube it turned out that enchantments are typically more dangerous and relevant. Despite the lower numbers there are just more enchantments you can usefully deal with using removal and which get you a lot of value from doing so. There are those oppressive enchantments like Opposition and Sulfuric Vortex that are hard to beat when you don't have the removal for them as with Jitte and Shackles in the artifacts camp. There are also lots of things like Treachery and Cast Out that are great to kill which is not really the case for the artifacts.
These game defining power plays, the Oppositions and Vedalken Shackles, are one of the few things that make Disenchant effects more valuable rather than less. The swing in win percentage is so huge when you are able to answer those key cards that despite all the "you having it and them not or you not while they do" aspects, it is still worth running answers to such cards.
With creature removal you are looking for efficiency and that is pretty much it. Obviously there are several things that factor into efficiency but cost is the main one. You know you are going to have relevant targets in the vast majority of cases so you just want your creature removal to be the best it can be at being removal. This is similar to the principle of card draw or burn, you just want the most efficient card because that plan is always a good one. As you move away from these reliable effects that always do good things you find that the inverse quickly becomes the case. Instead of wanting efficiency you want flexibility. Effects like Disenchant and something like lifegain are not always useful and as such you want them as an option or a free tack on effect on an otherwise useful (Lightning Helix, Kolghans' Command etc) card so as to limit inconsistency.
The most efficient Disenchant effects are Erase, Nature's Claim, Oxidize with a deep and broad range of very strong two drop options as well such as Aura Blast. If these cards replaced artifact or enchantment with creature in the text then they would be the best creature removal spells in the game. These are not even that common to see in sideboards and such and this is all just down to being narrow. Doubly narrow in fact. They are super narrow main as they might not even have relevant targets and they are still polar as sideboard cards as you need to draw them as and when your opponent draws the things you want to kill with them.
In cube all the good artifact and enchantment removal is on the back of some broader utility card. A card that can destroy artifacts or enchantments as an option on part of the card then it gains a decent amount of value in cube. Abrade, Kolghan's Command, Dromoka's Command, Fiery Confluence, Nahiri. Vraska, Vindicate, Dack Fayden, Unexpectedly Absent etc. are the best forms of cube Disenchants because they are all still great cards when there are no Disenchant targets in play.
I have only three cards that only hit artifacts and enchantments, two of those cycle and so basically do have alternate functionality. They at least are incredibly painless inclusions in a list when you don't face relevant targets. Sundering Growth is the only pure card I have in cube presently and it is a recent re-addition (based on a readers cube list, cheers for that Roland!). It works brilliantly with all the recent high powered token generators (Scarab God, embalm, eternalize, Fractured Identity, etc) and is playable in two colours. These two factors make it seem powerful enough to test out again now.
In an unpowered cube the answer to the question how much artifact and enchantment removal to play is that you run is as much as you can that fits the bill of not being a bad card when not able to Disenchant stuff. That excludes things like Reclamation Sage these days as a 3 mana 2/1 is far from useful or good being worth neither the card nor the mana. In an unpowered cube enchantment removal actually feels better too.
In a powered cube not only is there more artifacts floating around but there are more relevant targets. Due to cards like Tolarian Academy and Mishra's Workshop you find more big stuff like Lodestone Golem as well as all the cheaper Mox. I have found it to be pretty safe and effective to pack some more dedicated artifact removal in powered cube. Gorilla Shaman has always been a top notch powered cube tool for example. Even stuff like Hearth Kami and Torch Fiend can be worth it in powered cubes. Being cheap and often on theme is what makes them more suitable extras in the manic powered setting. I would still only have a smattering of such cards however.
In any kind of cube I have found the most effective Disenchant effects are typically the removal with broad range. Your Maelstrom Pulse, Abrupt Decay, Anguished Unmaking, Council's Judgement, Karn Liberated and so on. These cards are rarely great removal cards, they go 1 for 1 if that and often don't get you a tempo advantage either. What makes them good is that they deal with most of the problems you might face, be that a Baneslayer Angel, a Sword of Fire and Ice or a Moat (well, not Abrupt Decay but you get the point). They are space efficient in your deck as they perform a lot of roles and they make you a lot more consistent. Such cards are far better in cube than in constructed formats where you know what the few problem cards you will need to deal with are and can appropriately select the most suitable removal for the meta. Cube metas are so varied that the clunky slower removal with a nice broad range has a high premium. In a pick order list from best to worst that focused only on removal cards I would have most of these broad removal cards directly following the premium creature removal. Path, Plow, Bolt and Fatal Push are super efficient all round great removal cards and would take the top four slots, Dismember and Arc Trail probably takes the next two but after that it is all about the Pulses, Vindicates and Judgements. Although these are not considered modal cards they might as well be. If you class things like Maelstrom Pulse as a modal card that just has four modes on a type of permanent to destroy, and the same for the cycling Disenchants as they have a draw card mode then basically all the good Disenchants for cube use are modal. After the commonly agreed modal cards like Charms, Confluences and Commands you have the broad range removal and the narrower removal with cycling.
The only cards that have been a strong Disenchant effects in the cube that don't count as much as modal cards are a few dorks. Qasali Pridemage and Acidic Slime being the two best examples. Pridemade is just good tempo as a two drop 2/2 with exalted. I have even seen it used to kill its own stuff so as to instantly sac itself. Slime being one of few cards able to hit lands combined with being a 2/2 deathtouch ensure it is always relevant. While both cards still get a reasonable amount of play they are certainly now towards to lower end of my cube in terms of the play they get. Both are very fair cards. They are a lot better than Reclamation Sage because they are fine cards when they are not being Disenchants and that is the key message here.
When I build a deck I will typically try and have a balance of removal. Say I have four slots or so for dedicated removal spells then I would look to have a couple of cheap creature only cards and a couple of pricier cover all cards. Super top end cards like Karn I tend to think of more as half a removal spell as they come so late they do not always help with the things you need them for. In a fairly aggressive white deck I would love to have Path, Plow, Judgement and then either Unexpectedly Absent or Cast Out rounding out my four slots.
The amount of removal I want in a deck is dictated by two things. The speed of my deck and the depth and quality of my removal. The quicker and more proactive you are the less you will have to worry about things as you will just kill people before they can draw and play the real problem cards. You still want some removal but mostly it will be to gain tempo and so it will be much more focused on creature removal that it cheap and efficient. As you move towards slower decks you will need more removal that is also able to deal with different types of thing. You still need some cheap efficient removal so as to fight the tempo war but you also need broader removal so you don't get caught out by random things. While I might want four removal cards for a given deck I may play more or less depending on what I have. I would rather play the best or most suitable cards for my deck where possible. If I have great removal options and weaker threats then I might as well replace the worst threat with an extra removal card. How much total removal you want is another topic that is unlikely to be small and so we will not venture down that path here.
Suffice it to say most decks want some removal and most of those decks want a reasonably healthy quantity well over 10% (four cards) of the deck. This means anything other than the most aggressive or streamlined combo will want a couple of Disenchant effects if possible and perhaps more. I never feel bad when I have three ways to deal with an artifact in a cube deck as all the ways I have to do that are great cards when not Shattering (or Stealing in the case of Dack Fayden). The answer to the question of how much Disenchant to run is as much as you can provided it doesn't hurt your consistency or tempo in a significant way. Much as you want as much of the "free" stuff as you can get you rarely want the dedicated options. I would usually rather have no Disenchant effect in my deck at all than run actual Disenchant and risk it being dead.
Obviously not all colours have access to such things. Black and blue have no way to directly remove artifacts and enchantments and red can only do the former. Typically you cover yourself with hand disruption, countermagic, bounce, and splashes so as to give you some means of handling problems in the more awkward colours when you need to. Hand disruption and in particular bounce effects are a little more valuable in cube than elsewhere due to the way they act as an indirect answer for a Disenchant target. The value of a Disenchant effect is slightly reduced in a deck with a number of the indirect answers for such things.
Sadly there is no clear answer to how much Disenchant you want. It depends on the cube you are playing, the deck you are playing, the colours it is, all the other cards in the deck, the options in your pool, the nominal power of those cards and so on and so forth. The best you can do is understand the factors involved and make a judgement based on your options. You want some if you can but you really don't want to have to pay for it either by having a bad card or a dead card. You want it but you don't always need it, you can just go quicker or solve problems more indirectly. Having it makes life easier but it is all about risk and reward. A splash makes you more inconsistent, replacing Doom Blade with Mortify makes you slower. Weighing up all these little factors is the best way to arrive at the right mix of things for your deck.
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Awesome article. Keep up the excellent posts!ReplyDelete
You know Nick, this topic really highlights a pain point for me. So much of what you read online about cube is viewed through the lens of a powered environment. Even managers of unpowered lists who post things have often had their opinions formed by originally looking at the most established, long-standing lists (which are powered). As a result, you see disenchant, uktabi orangutan, seal of cleansing featuring in cubes where they can safely be cut.ReplyDelete
For me, Humility is also in the realm of 'must answer' enchantments. Doubly so because it automatically protects itself from Reclamation Sage, Angel of Sanctions, Qasali Pridemage, etc. The card has been rather polarizing (the helpless frustration of Moat, sprinkled with some Rules Nightmare). However it's a very high pick build-around for planeswalker control strategies here. Have you ever tried cubing with Humility before, or did reason prevail?
The 3 Oblivion Rings are also an interesting element to this discussion I feel. The less enchantment removal you have, the more these go up in value. I've found them rather reliable myself, if not ideal in tempo terms. What would be your reasoning for running Forsake the Worldy over one of these effects for example?
Ouch, Humility. I did have this in the cube way way back, like pre-Baneslayer Angel times where dorks mostly just sucked and there were not enough walkers for that to be a fully fledged strategy. The card was a bit too much like a sideboard card for my liking back then and so it was cut and has not returned. With all the meta changes since then I can fully see how the card would now be oppressively good. It is absolutely one of those game defining card that dominates a large number of strategies. It is also one of those badly designed older cards that is either useless or an easy win. I have been trying to cut as many of such cards as possible from my cube with Ankh of Mishra being long gone and cards like Armageddon on my watch list. While such cards have an average performance sufficient to be cube worthy they are so polar that it doesn't lead to great games. Worship, Moat and Humility all feel like that! I might have to dabble a bit in some more Humility as I can see quite how nuts it could be now but I can see regret in my future!Delete
As for your first point, cubes are like a food web. Each single change will have knock on effects throughout the system/meta. I only fairly recently realized this issue was so pronounced myself. As such I have since tried to highlight the significant differences and changes between the common types of cube. The longer people keep cubing and writing about it and sharing ideas the more people will know and understand the ramifications. When I started playing the concept of mana curve didn't exist! Just be satisfied you are ahead of the curve with your understanding of cube. I have been monitoring different cubes and "the average" cube since modo started doing cube drafts. Progress is slow but it is definitely happening. The community is learning and on the whole cubes are much better designed and the same types of cube look more alike.
Last point! Oblivion Ring cards fall into the category of too polar again for me. Yes, they are fairly reliable on the whole, their average performance is enough to merit them cube slots. When good they are great but when they are bad they cost you the game. I only like Cast Out due to the flash and the ability to cycle it away if you fear them having a blowout answer to it. I was actually finding blue to be the most tedious thing to try and use Oblivion Rings against despite not having any direct enchantment removal. Bounce is much more frequently the thing that ruins a plan relying on an Oblivion Ring. Targetted bounce is instant and cheap and mass bounce effects are super brutal when you get something back from under the Oblivion Ring. Blue just has way too much control over the game when you use soft removal effects against it and they will usually be able to punish you for it. I like my drafting cube cards to have as wide an application as possible I was finding I was increasingly using Oblivion Ring cards on very low risk (no EtB effects) and low threat level cards against blue mages so as to avoid being punished. As such I increasingly cut those cards where possible from my lists and would use them more like sideboard tools. As white got more cards like Unexpectedly Absent and Council's Judgement I felt that I could probably make do with those cards alone. Basically, I agree that Oblivion Ring and such are strong cube worthy cards and my not including them is mostly a personal preference affair. I don't consider Forsake the Worldly to be a replacement for them. Council's Judgement is as they do the same role. I actually replaced Disenchant itself with the Forsake. It is effectively a sideways upgrade that is specific to cube (in that in other formats such a change would likely be a downgrade) much like Dreadbore over Terminate.
Haha, yea there are plenty of good reasons not to run Humility. Sucks the fun right out of playing creatures, it's a rules quagmire and has terrible, TERRIBLE art. But in my experience it's very hard indeed to beat a resolved Humility if you A) can't remove it, or B) are planeswalker light. In gameplay terms it's the very definition of lame but I think I'll continue in my folly, at least for a little while!Delete
The blow-out potential of Orings is definitely real. Good point about instant speed bounce, they certainly are weak to that. And the more potent ETB effects enter the cube, the less desirable they become. The guys who draft my cubes have always preferred these over disenchants though, so who am I to argue with the will of the people!
another big influencing factor is if you're playing with sideboards or not - in a 8 man draft with sideboarding i'm always going to be looking to pick up a disenchant effect but in a 1/3 cube 2 deck sealed we don't play with sideboards so the disenchant effects are usually not maindeck worthy and just dead weight.ReplyDelete
Yes, absolutely but also it depends! While you very much would pick up a Disenchant for your pool in a draft and it would improve your odds this opens up a bigger question. Is it worth running sideboard cards in your drafting cube? If that is the case then things like Red and Blue Elemental Blast have huge value, you end up going deep down the rabbit hole. I have found that the most consistent drafting experience is to be had when you include as few narrow cards as possible and sideboard cards very much fall into that group. Disenchant would get picked high enough and often enough to give the illusion of being worth a cube slot but it didn't see anywhere near enough actual play to seem like it deserved its slot and that is the nature of the sideboard style cards. Certainly I do both heads up sealed without sideboards and drafts with sideboards with my drafting cube and so it has less use of sideboard specific cards. If you only draft with your cube then there is a stronger case for some of the more useful sideboard cards.Delete
I do think that the answer remains the same for "How much Disenchant?" when considering sideboards and when not. That being said, the reasoning for not having them as sideboard options is a somewhat different one and I didn't touch on it in this essay. Ultimately it is all about consistency but for maindeck disenchants it is specifically about the consistency of your deck. For sideboard consideration it is the consistency of the draft that is in question. You want a consistent draft as that leads to better balanced decks which in turn leads to better games. The reason not to play Disenchant main is selfish, the reason not to have them as a sideboard option is intended to be for the good of everyone! One is a play choice and one is a designers choice.
Agreed about sideboard cards. Even though that term implies a bit of a spectrum. I recently added Pyroclasm to combat the dominance of mana-efficient tempo and aggro decks in my meta. So in a sense this card is narrow (dead vs control etc) but I wouldn't call it a sideboard card. Ultimately I guess the distinction is whether one can confidently maindeck it for a particular cube environment.Delete
Conversely, I was considering adding Containment Priest, but then I considered that the cheaty decks like reanimator are already high-risk enough to draft that I didn't need another way to punish them. Again, it depends on your environment how deep you go with sideboard cards. In powered cubes you have Hatebears.dec, an entire archetype devoted to them!
While i take your point about sideboard specific cards i would class the blasts and disenchant very differently - one is a occasion maindeck card with very wide sideboarding potential while the other is very obviously a sideboard only colour hoser. I would compare it more to a card like Thragtusk in green ramp - very playable but not really optimal most of the time but 100% what you want in your sideboard in some matchups.Delete
There's also a question of feel and game experience - losing to an Opposition because you havent drafted (and couldnt draft) any disenchant effects feels very oppressive whereas losing to mono R because you didnt get a Blue Elemental Blast isnt really a complaint you can make. one is an occasionally very powerful answer, the other is a always very efficient answer.
if you assume, on average, you're drafting 31 playables for your deck (23 spells, 5 lands, 3 sideboard cards) then approximately 10% of your cube could potentially be strong sideboard cards and the resulting decks would be 'more powerful' than a cube with no sideboard cards. Obviously this again depends on the use case of your cube but i would make the argument that for a 100% drafted cube having 3-5% powerful sideboard specific cards would improve the overall play and drafting experience vs 0%.
Containment Priest is a very interesting one - it is currently in Nick's cube and i used it to great effect against his Reanimate deck in a 2 deck sealed we played. Normally i wouldnt want to include such a narrow effect maindeck but we were talking during deck construction so i knew what to expect and it made the games fun and interactive instead of just losing to t2-3 Griselbrand. In the other matchup it was very sub-par but it was worth the trade off, knowing we were playing without sideboards and also knowing what to expect.Delete
Pyroclasm is also very interesting - Elves, RDW, WW, etc. are all very powerful archtypes in Nick's cube atm and that would be a very powerful option against them, but not a card that was really correct to maindeck enough to be auto include, hence a great sideboard card, but one that's flexible enough to get played enough to justify its slot unlike something like the Blasts or Chill or Boil etc.
Indeed! I had a similar thing at a draft the other day when the Reanimator player got hosed by Scavenging Ooze. The thing is, he was a bit miffed about it. So I guess there's also that element to sideboard cards. The guy who gets wrecked by them feels like he did nothing wrong and that the universe is just out to get them.ReplyDelete
That said, are there any good options for reigning in RDW a little? I was toying Timely Reinforcements but that feels a bit heavy handed. The Pyroclasm inclusion is very new and mainly the result of theorycrafting. I'll let you know how it fares in practice!
Much to reply to! Pyroclasm has been in and out of my cube more than most. It also highlights the moving line between sideboard cards and narrow maindeck cards. I recently cut Pyroclasm for the cycling Sweltering Sun in much the same vein as Disenchant into Forsake the Worldly. I am sure Pyroclasm will be back at some point though! Red doesn't need the two mana option so much with cards like Arc Trail and Forked Bolt. It is also less common in my cube to see slower red strategies. Generally when I am adding in a card like Pyroclasm it is a response to a meta shift. When weenie aggressive strategies start to dominate I will respond by adding in some ways to counter that. As things settle down and people adapt the narrower of the remedy cards dry up as it were. As such it sounds like we entirely agree on this aspect of things Roland but just happen to be out of phase with our cycles!Delete
Containment Priest is another good example card. It is in my cube as another attempt to balance things. White isn't typically great at interacting with some strategies and it was just an attempt to make those games more involved. Priest has utility beyond countering Show and Tell / Reanimate strategies and isn't even that bad as just a 2/2 human for 2 with flash! It certainly outperforms the Reclamation Sage without targets. White wasn't weak to Reanimate, it was just a dull matchup and Priest helps with that rather nicely.
Both Priest and Pyroclasm are specific strategy hoser cards and while in some metas they are entirely maindeckable I do consider them more as sideboard cards at heart. I use both to tackle specific balance issues in cube design and as such they are exceptions to my general rule of avoiding sideboard cards. Disenchant was the same, it was in the cube to help offset the imbalance Umezawa's Jitte and Opposition caused. I feel there are now enough alternate options that are less narrow and sideboardy in feel that I no longer need Disenchant to redress the balance issue.
The more I discuss this issue the more I am realizing quite how close this all is. Small changes anywhere in many different things will be enough to swing it either way. A 720 cube compared to a 540 one might well need the Disenchant as there is not quite enough decent broad range answer cards. The preference of the player base is a significant factor too. You are looking to include playable cards and if the people you play with like certain things then it is best to accommodate them where possible. Obviously the cards you have make a big difference too, a few more must kill enchantments and the value of the Disenchant rises.
Continuation from previous post, apparently it was too long!Delete
As for my comparison of Red Elemental Blast and Disenchant, I will agree, that was very heavy handed and it doesn't hold well beyond them both being things that are best off in sideboards! I was just trying to illustrate the point that it is a dangerous and long road to start off down in terms of cube design.
Disenchant is certainly more alike to Thragtusk than REB in some ways but not in the critical way. Thragtusk is never dead, it is just weaker or stronger in any given matchup. Thragtusk is much more the Forsake the Worldly equivalent of a solution card hence why it is still a cube worthy card.
I 100% agree with your point on game feel and experience. This is why I try and provide answers for tedious cards and why I try even harder to make those answer cards rounded and non-polar.
Onto your claim Mr Harle that 3-5% sideboard cards would lead to a more optimal cube experience. While your logic looks good it overlooks the relevance of choices within packs. If you are at all worried about total playables you are rarely going to pick a sideboard card over a main deck one. The more sideboard cards you have in a draft the fewer maindeck cards you will have to pick from. Packs are mostly cards you don't want as it is so further reducing your options just reduces deck quality. It is not so much about the resulting decks but more the options you have within a draft. The less you are forced into picks in the draft the better your decks potential and the more impact you have on your deck as a player. It might all sounds like small and irrelevant percentages but I find it pretty noticeable. If I fill up my cube with lots of weak cards to test out the draft experience and deck quality decline really sharply. It is why I am so averse to narrow cards.
There are certainly two kinds of sideboard cards, the efficient solution cards and the more direct hate ones. Boil and the like are certainly in the latter group and I think we can all agree no one wants to see those in the cube. The former group is the one with the Disenchants and the Pyroclasms and there is certainly more merit to such cards in general. This all makes me think Engineered Plague might be able to do some serious work these days!
Lastly, no. I have not found a good solution to the dominance of red as yet. I too considered the Timely Reinforcements but have not yet dared! I just find I let the RDW archetype set the pace. I don't mind if it has a slight win percentage edge over the field or that it warps the meta a little as I find the deck to give close interactive games with a surprising amount of choice and play to them. Most decks in my cube are fairly low to the ground and able to get involved with things quickly so as to not just fold to a decent red deck opener. Early plays, 3 and 4 toughness dorks and free/incidental lifegain are the best ways I have found to combat red decks. The more of these cards you have the better your chances are.
Thanks for writing on this! And great article as usual! It has given me a lot to think on. I currently maintain a 900 powered cube that is 7% high value artifact targets and 4% high value enchantments. Definitely agree that the more flexible ench/art destruction is better. Currently run 39 spells capable of hitting either ench or art, 3 of which are dedicated disenchant spells without a body or cycling. Those 3 will prob get the axe after this article in favor of sundering growth and council's judgment. Only issue I see with cutting disenchant/naturalize/kodama's reach is some very specific spells - opposition most apparently, will immediately lock you out of the game without an instant speed answer. Thus the dilemma. Green's spell section is pretty anemic right now, so I could see naturalize and KR hanging out a bit longer. If I were running a smaller cube, obviously they would be gone.ReplyDelete
Other points: on ring effects- I still like them, upside is high enough and I have limited (5) bounce effects. Quarantine field is such a game swinger and the whole "does he have the disenchant" subgame makes for tense matches.
On sideboard cards in general. I try to put cards in w broad applications. Pyroclasm is good enough for me since at worst in a properly built deck it is a very bad shock that can't hit players. REB is too narrow since it is unplayable in many matchups.
The biggest area I currently struggle with is graveyard hate. Outside deathrite there really isn't much at the appropriate power level and reanimator is very very strong in my cube. I am actually now in the awkward situation of considering cutting reanimator cards or targets or putting in super dedicated anti graveyard hate.
One more point, I've run timely reinforcements for a long time and it has performed just fine. Even against control you can often engineer getting the tokens after a wrath.ReplyDelete
Red really isn't that dominant in my cube. The size dilutes the power level a bit since you cant just run the super elite Aggro cards. Even so, the best red decks I've found goldfish around turn 4 and since my cube supports a bunch of combo which red tends to lose to.
Combo certainly is a good way to curtail the aggro decks although I have been finding that is less the case these days with cards like Harsh Mentor casually hosing a significant number of the combos. I also find I tend to prefer the combo cubes with power or in things like rotisserie so my drafting cube has very little combo - basically just reanimator.Delete
I can't bring myself to cut the reanimate theme as it would gut black but one day perhaps. I haven't found it overly dominant either, certainly tier one but not oppressive. I only run Scavenging Ooze and Deathrite and I guess Mardu Woe Reaper as graveyard hate in my cube but I have lots of answers to things getting put into play. White tappers are surprisingly good as are bounce effects of course! Relic of Progenitus is the only graveyard hate card I would consider running in a cube as it is low cost both in mana terms and with the relatively cheap cycling. Exile disruption is also brutal against the reanimate deck. Doomfall in either mode is a beating for them!
You make a great case for Pyroclasm, I think I am convinced I should add it back in!
In a 900 cube I think you need all the Oblivion Ring cards so your build and makeup regarding your removal sounds really well considered. I do like Krosan Grip in general as it does something no other card does (Wipe Away being the closest). Cards like that and like Sundering Growth generally feel better than the more basic Disenchants in cubes.