Shelldock Isle is also a card I ultimately banned. While also supporting cheat in mechanics and thus big creatures like Emrakul, Ulamog, Griselbrand and the like the Isle was simply far too good. It is super easy to setup, hit randomly or with a Tutor or Brainstorm effect. It is then very easy to turn on. Shelldock frequently fired off in the midgame, from like turn five and would usually represent such a swing that the game would be won. The cost of playing Sheldock was very little as well considering how game breaking it is. It is like playing an Ancestral Visions except you also get an Island with it at the start and late game the suspend is reduced to 1! Oh, and it would frequently generate a bonus 12 mana Tolarian Academy style now and again... All in all far too good in cube and a fairly easy cut. Even without cards with vast CMC Shelldock is pretty oppressive, 20 cards left in a deck occurs in most games and rapidly. To be a comparable power level to 60 card decks it would need to trigger on a practically empty library in 40 card decks. The next youngest card I have banned is Grim Monolith and one can appreciate the greater understanding of the design team as magic has aged. If Shelldock functioned as intended as per 60 card decks it wouldn't need banning.
Augur of Skulls
Boom / Bust
Doran, the Siege Tower
Grove of the Burnwillows
Magus of the Moon
Pact of Negation
Rebuff the Wicked
Rites of Flourishing
River of Tears
Scion of Oona
Seal of Primordium
Simian Spirit Guide
Sower of Temptation
Sword of the Meek
Thorn of Amethyst
Urborg, Tomb of Yawgmoth
Venser, Shaper Savant
Just a Shock when you cast it but rather more than a Shock at the times you are not casting it. Initially this was exclusively a tribal card for the synergies it offered with Ringleader, Recruiter and Matron however it has made its way into the drafting cube since the arrival of delirium. Tarfire is easily the most playable of the cards with the tribal type. Most decks are pretty happy throwing in some cheap burn. Tarfire now enjoys a supporting role for Emrakul, the Promised End, Tarmogoyf and all the delirium cards. Having cards that put themselves in the bin when you play them, while being useful effects, that have multiple types, and low costs are what delirium decks want from a support card. Tarfire would be good at supporting those cards even if the tribal type wasn't as super rare as it is on playables.
9. Jace Beleren
Original Jace and the first of the three mana planeswalkers. Beleren is a testament to good design, the card has been in the cube since it was printed and has seen plenty of play yet has never seemed over powered. Beleren is more limited than your typical walker in that he is only really card draw. Although he can also be a win condition that is only if you have gained complete control as per most planswalker ultimates. You usually won before you go there. Beleren offers no utility beyond card draw prior to that point which is what makes him a unique walker. Fortunately Jace is good enough and versatile enough at what he does to be fine with just doing card draw. A +2 ability on a three mana walker is normally oppressive, see Ashiok, but as Jace concedes cards to do this and doesn't really become more threatening himself it is interesting and balanced. The choice to both draw or just draw yourself and the choice of attacking Jace or ignoring him is often a difficult and interesting choice for both players and that, on top of being so fair, is what makes him such good design.
8. Mana Tithe
I liked the colour shifting of things, I think it was done with more than sufficient restraint to cause any problems or homogenization. White also really needed the love in terms of interesting cards, interactive cards and option dense cards. White is fine on power level, playables, archetypes and so forth but my god is it a dull colour. Very few white cards pull me to the colour but this blue card does a good job of it! I feel like Force Spike sits well in white, it certainly sees a lot more play than the blue version but that is largely due to blue having a lot of options for that kind of thing that is often used over Spike. White also puts Mana Tithe to better effect than blue can as it has lots of cheap proactive threats and mana denial disruption on many of those. If they are under pressure from either of the Thalia's for example a Mana Tithe is going to be rather more effective.
While Ponder and Brainstorm are the two most played card quality cards in constructed formats where they are legal they are rather overrated in cube and often weaker than the simple scry options. Without an abundance of sac lands and other shuffle Ponder offers less card quality than scry cards typically. It is a superior digging tool but again, most cube decks are looking for overall consistency and not just dig capacity. Combo decks often want direct dig but all other kinds of deck just want overall consistency for the most part. Ponder is still a great card and still a premium one drop it just turns out that it is only 4th or 5th best of the cards that do the same sort of thing in a cube without combo. This low rating and dull report on the card make it sound worse than it should. I will happily play Ponder in any deck, even without any sac lands. It is still a great card and one of the most played in my cube. Rarely is it left unpicked or unplayed and rarely do I think someone is playing it when they shouldn't be. Ponder is great, just not Preordain great! This version is ugly despite Tedin being the artist of most of my favourite spells I have never been a big fan of his humanoid depictions. I was glad when the Msets brought this out with new art.
Another card that is overrated in cube based on its strength in constructed. Certainly Goyf remains one of the most efficient creatures in cube as it is in modern however with just the one copy in cube it is much harder to house the Goyf in a way that makes good use of his huge stats. Just a random fat dork is a bit aimless. It will get removed if needed or chumped if needed and will rarely dominate the game. In modern you trade off resources and quickly and so you want the card you have left over to wrap things up quickly. In modern Goyf is almost a combo card with Thoughtsieze as it ensures you can play it on turn two already Bolt proof. In cube it is far more common to have a big board stall. Gofy is getting rather better in cube at present with delirium cards and other graveyard based synergies being common and powerful. Despite most older creatures getting worse over time Gofy is one of the very few that is getting better. It is still way better in constructed than cube and was never a bad card in cube.
A lovely little card that seems to find its way into most black decks. A two mana sorcery speed Terror is fine. It is playable enough and that is what tends to matter with cards that have different modes of play. Shriekmaw gives you some early options while being a reasonably weighty late game card if held onto. Five mana removal is poor as is a 3/2 partially evasive dork however it is good value and usually good tempo when combined. Critically, the pricey nature of the powerful end is dramatically reduced in risk by having a useful two mana mode. Evoke is a great mechanic and this is the best of the cube cards with it on. Evoke is also a nice way to get dorks in the bin be that for flipping Heretical Healers or empowering delirium or providing targets for recursion effects. Spell effects at spell costs on creatures is also really nice for mainly green tutor and dig effects. A really great all round card that is exactly what you want in cubes.
4. Garruk Wildspeaker
One of my favourite planeswalkers. Great design for both flavour and power level. Garruk never felt like he got as much love as he deserves. While green has lots of strong walkers I think Wildspeaker remains the best in cube. The best thing about Garruk is that he costs very little mana. If you plus him with just normal lands in play the turn you make him he has only cost you two mana effectively. If you can flop out something else alongside your Garruk then you have had a huge swing of a turn. Garruk plus lands that tap for more than one, or just Garruk off the back of ramp is all very bursty. Garruk also protects himself as all the good four drop walkers should. The ultimate on Garruk also helps more than most planeswalkers ultimates to push his power level. It works well with green and the making of 3/3 beasts, it can happen the turn after Garruk hits play and it often threatens to end the game. Garruk is one of the most common planeswalkers to force a bad attack or a bit of burn just to keep him off his ultimate. Despite his versatility and power he is not all that disruptive and so has always been fairer than the bomb walkers.
The black Wrath of God and probably better than the original simply due to greater redundancy in white. This is a great colour shifted card as it is entirely appropriate. Black feels like it should have Wrath and as of 2007 it does so that is great. A Day of Judgement shifted over as well would be nice! Black having access to decent, reliable mass removal adds depth to the colour and ensures it is a strong pairing for a control deck. There are not many core cards (those with few words that do one thing cheaply) that can be colour shifted and not seem to break the colour pie. I would love to see Shock in another colour for example but it would feel wrong. Damnation doesn't at all and is a huge win on that front as well as the power aspect. The art is a wonderful counterpoint to Wrath of God as well.
2. Cryptic Command
No one is a stranger to this bad boy or what it does. A huge pull to blue and a huge buff to some of the other best blue cards. Luckily for Cryptic Command filter lands arrived before it did! After taking a break from the game in 2006 I didn't really get back into MtG until 2009. I had vaguely kept the cube upto date but I wasn't following events or metas. I was pretty oblivious to the potency of this card and rather underrated it. It reeked of Dismiss and bad Repulse and it took a bit of persuading me to add it to the cube. There are those who do not let me forget my very very off evaluation of this beast to this day. Thankfully I am rather better at appraising cards these days, although most of it is just recognizing bias. I was biased against Cryptic for many reasons, not least being triple blue to cast. Cryptic was not in my cube for a couple of years and that is frankly shameful, even as a super casual as I was at the time.
One of the all time great cards. I rate this up there with Force of Will. In a lot of ways it is better. I would certainly rather be playing Thoughtseize on turns one and two than Force! That becomes less true when you have a powered cube, then it is all about going first and having lots of power! Thoughtsieze is easily the best non-land card in modern, arguably in legacy and not far off in cube. Thoughtsieze provides complete information and almost full control. It is a one for one trade for a minor tempo cost. It gives you a plan and takes away theirs. I think this effect is so colour defining for black and so interesting and skill intense that I would like to keep it in the game and have more similar effects printed so as to allow for more cube redundancy. I would also like to see more cards that protect against discard effects. The problem with this card in modern is the lack of counterplay, not so much the power level of the card, although that is also very very high!