0 - unplayable in 40 card singleton
1 - effectively unplayable
2 - has low tier constructed decks it might go in
3 - has mid tier constructed decks it does go in
4 - pretty powerful stuff with several potential homes, able to perform well in lower powered cubes
5 - powerful stuff that is either just too narrow or has too many superior alternatives
6 - fringe cube worthy
7 - cube worthy
8 - cube staple
9 - unpowered cube bomb
10 - powered cube bomb
This is a bit longer than usual...
Tyrant of Kher Ridges 6
This is the perfect sort of card for cube. Immediate and roudidly useful effect on a useful body. Where this comes a little unstuck is when compared to the likes of Glorybringer and Inferno Titan. Now technically we can find some situations where this is better than both of those cards but in almost all of the cases it is better than neither. This is pretty unlucky as it is a card that has not only good suitability but technically enough power for cube play. It just happens to be competing for slots against one of the most powerful parts of my cube and thus falls short.
Demolition Field 7.5
Great. Very happy to see another Field of Ruin. It was and is a great card that is fair and interesting and balanced and solved a lot of the more awkward problem cards in the game. Field certainly helps slower decks most but I am fine with that. The longer games do tend to be the best games. Not just losing to a card you can't answer helps games be good too... This isn't powerful as such, it is just a necessary sort of card to keep things fair and fun and working sensibly. It is hard to get excited about cards like this but in practice it will absolutely do more to improve the quality of cube than most, perhaps even all, of the cards printed this year. I feel tight only giving this a 7.5 but that is appropriate for the power of the card, it just fails to reflect how much of a boost it will provide the quality of the cube. It is actually more powerful than I give it credit for as Omnath, Field of the Dead, and even Breya decks frequently have just a couple of basics. Between fetching and naturally drawing them it is not uncommon at all to find them without basics to fetch. Even more so the case when you are a white deck and you have multiple effects like Path, Winds, and Settle. Then there are of course the techy uses of the card where you use it to fix your own colours, shuffle your deck, or force a shuffle on the opponent.
Painful Quandary 2
Brutal in a long game but a five mana do nothing in not so long games is not where you want to be in cube.
Sardian Cliffstomper 3
If you only ever played mountains in your red aggro decks then this would be very strong. Just a two mana 4/4 that can scale up a bit more in power is pretty good. Sure, it isn't online right away but it is so robust and hard hitting and cheap we are OK with that, assuming we are a deck that is planning on getting to 4 lands in good time. This is all too narrow for cube which isn't all that sad as this is just a cheap durdle dork and they are fairly dull cards.
Lay Down Arms 7
This is probably good but perhaps not really needed due to how good and deep white removal now is. It is a touch awkward being sorcery and giving away life, the former making it appeal less to reactive decks and the latter a mild turn off for proactive ones. This is certainly more powerful than Oust with exile being vastly better than just a delay. I may even choose this over Swords to Plowshares in aggressive decks! Lay Down Arms probably fails to impress over On Thin Ice which concedes no life for the aggressive player and doesn't have limitations on what it takes out. That is in the lists that are not mostly plain at least, which for midrange and control white decks, is basically all of them. Certainly this is good enough to get a good old run out and test. Cut Down got a test just because it is that sort of card and it has had loads of play and done some fine work and Cut Down is waaay weaker than this so odds on this will just linger about in cube picking up enough play here and there and doing a sufficiently acceptable job when played. Removal is increasingly important to have. In many ways my cube just plays like very high powered limited where all you really want most of the time is threats and removal. As such it is pretty hard to turn down objectively good removal.
Survivor of Korlis 1
I really love this but it just isn't enough. This isn't a proper threat and the bonus free bits do not do enough. I am not even sure I could engineer a deck where this was good enough which is a shame as I really do like this scry from the bin concept and want to see more of it on more playable cards. If this traded the first strike for a power...
Fallaji Archaeologist 4
Dork, self mill, card selection, and all in a card neutral package! Sounds amazing. Satyr Wayfinder has been a powerhouse of a support card for a long time in cube and this seems to pack a bit more punch. Seems is the key word here however. If you miss with this a 1/4 that milled you for 3 does not impress. Given you are probably about 40% lands your hit rate with this isn't ideal. You also only really want this in control. A 0/3 isn't too impressive in tempo even if the mill and the card selection is. You might as well just play a nice safe Thoughtscour effect. A control deck cannot afford the risk of missing. Sure, they might have 50% targets but you are still missing over 10% of the time then and mill in control can be a little risky as you often need most of your time and resources. Certianly I am not playing this over Wall of Omens or even Fblthp and so this very cool support card just doesn't have any homes.
Forging the Anchor 2
Tried and tested scaling high power draw for the synergy decks. If you have 50% or more artifacts in your deck this is going to be amazing and increasingly so as you up that percentage. Not playable in many places but powerful raw draw in those you can.
No One Left Behind 1
I like the scaling of this one but the mana advantage you are getting out of it is too small to be worth risking a card that can be dead. I'll just stick to Unearth or under cost unrestricted Reanimate effects.
Thran Vigil 1
Potentially powerful but too much phaff to setup and then just a win more card.
Mishra's Research Desk 8
A red Think Twice come Sleight of Hand. It is not a mana efficient card overall but it is something you can break down rather a lot and so the cost feels significantly less. Total it is five mana to get two cards out of it which is a bad rate however that can be in chunks of 1, 1, and finally 3. That is OK, it is better than Think Twice just on cost. Getting two Sleight of Hand instead of draw two turns this from just OK into a pretty good deal. Then you get to pile on some artifact and graveyard synergy and this goes from being OK to being decent I think. Red has plenty of things that work with both artifacts and graveyards. It doesn't take many little perks like getting 4 damage out of a Galvanic Blast or feeling like you got card advantage by discarding this to a Seasoned Pyromancer or Fable or the Mirrorbreaker to turn a cheap support card from good to great. Desk seems to be very well rounded and low cost card quality in red. If you have stuff to do, great, do that, if not then use this and find those things to do. This helps massively with hitting land drops and is quite kind in giving you until the end of your next turn so that you can deploy on curve threats. For example, using this on turn two to dig for a three drop. If you had to play the card by the upcoming end step the mana cost to use this would be too much. I am a very big fan of this. It is very well suited to red and sits neatly in between a card quality and a card advantage card. I look forward to playing with this one a lot. I am expecting this to see a lot of play. Until now red card quality has typically cost too much, either in mana or in cards. There was a time where Faithless Looting was worth the card disadvantage but that era of the meta is no more. We are certainly not in a place where Tormenting Voice cards be used anymore either down mostly to tempo and so presently all of the card selection red gets is on the back of costlier threats. This is OK but it doesn't much help with those early land drops. This does and that is very much one of the best things about card selection. Arguably you can splash this as well, if you are desperate for card quality/draw and have some synergy reasons to pack this. The red cost is only on the unearth so it is no a total disaster if you don't ever see that red. It is safer splashing this with limited access to red than it is to splash Lingering Souls with limited access to black. Any who, time to stop spaffing on about how much I like this one. Card is OK, but I really like it so I am excited about it and I think it will make games better. OK as it might be it wouldn't get a look in as a blue card, it is just that other colours are a bit more starved of card quality. Red is also generally a bit better at exiling cards out of their library due to being rather more redundant of a colour that most others.
Gaea's Gift 2
This does a lot, counters removal, combat trick, Plummet a flyer, push through damage with trample. It is however a very situational two mana trick. These are super hard to justify putting in decks. Sometimes they are great and sometimes they do nothing. It makes them quite hard to appraise but it also just makes them unappealing. Cards are best when they are mostly fine and not useless or game winning. In essence, even if this does turn out to be powerful enough (which I doubt) it isn't going to enhance the cube and so we can move on with our day.
Third Path Iconoclast 7
This is a bit of a rabbithole for me. I do not go out of my way to intentionally support any synergies in my main cube, I try and let the meta balance things out itself by what individual cards are getting play. This means that only the most common synergies ever really get a chance. Spells matter is one of those and has performed such that it looks like I do support it in my cube. It means cards like this slot in pretty perfectly despite being objectively quite a narrow card. This is basically just the ticket for Izzet decks and gives them a bit more redundancy and cheap payoff. This will get plenty of play and perform well in my cube and many others as a slightly better Young Pyromancer however it is an indication that we are perhaps getting a bit deep. Without already being fairly deep on the spells matter support Third Path Iconoclast would not look at all enticing for cube play. Equally, if that archetype ceases to be any good in cube this card will fall with it immediately.
Su-Chi Cave Guard 2
This is only getting play if abused for that sweet sweet 8 mana. Flash (the card) seems like the first place to go for abuse with the second stop being Goblin Welder.
Tocasia's Dig Site 1
Love it but it is a long way off playable. The cost of having a colourless land is worth more than what this offers for one. And for two, you can't afford to pay 4 for a single scry effect. That is such bad tempo it is exclusively viable in late game top deck affairs and all or nothing plays. To an old school player like me this instinctively looks great but in actuality it is effectively unplayable.
Rancor but cashes in for a card rather than giving you your thing back. I'm not even sure which is better. Like, you are playing Rancor because you want Rancor so getting it back is good. However, if your Rancor died then your dork died and you only want Rancor when you also have dork so perhaps chance on dork is therefor better than Rancor being the card you get back. Certainly Rancor getting itself means that after multiple recursions the Rancor is absolutely better than Audacity but as far as the most important first trigger I am coming down rather in favour of Audacity. We can also assume than on average a card draw is going to be more powerful than a Rancor as basically all cube decks have an average CMC greater than 1 (including lands). Even if this is better than Rancor, which is certainly up for debate, (it is certainly less abusable with the likes of Auratog), Audacity would not be better by much and I don't run Rancor in my cube anymore. As such I cannot see this lasting much as I might like the card.
Fortified Beachhead 3
Cool, no complains about dual lands and I do like it when tribes get one. I wouldn't have jumped to blue being the second colour for soldiers but whatever. This isn't super powerful beyond the fixing but I can see situations where I might splash this just for the effect. I am not playing this outside of tribal and I am only excited to do so if I am already blue. Certainly a very narrow card.
Brotherhood's End 5
I love a modal red sweeper but this is probably a bit too situational across the board to be worth it. A fine enough card but I fear one that has a few too many superior alternatives.
One with the Multiverse 4
Future Sight meets a capped Omniscience. This will win very fast and be a lot of fun in doing so. Academy Rector has a firm friend in this. I suspect Replenish is also keen. Rather over the top for cube, especially those without the silly mana cards and combo stuff.
Obliterating Bolt 7
As we move into a world that is more midrange and more tempo driven in cube red is increasingly less bothered about burn having to be able to go face. All decks have things you will want to kill and the ability to efficiently and cleanly do that is more important than being able to go face. This is cheap, it is a lot of damage for one card and not very much mana. It hits walkers and dorks, and the clincher, it exiles. Red can come unstuck to a few things if it cannot exile them. If the meta starts to shift away from midrange this card will lose value. Lava Coil was fine and didn't need much to push it over the top. Conditions are more favourable for that kind of card now and Obliterating Bolt is a direct upgrade. Red also has plenty of two mana for three damage effects, those that hit players, those that exile, those that are instant. It has rather fewer that deal a useful four damage at that price range. Obviously I would prefer this to be instant and would happily swap either the exile or the ability to hit walkers for instant speed but even so, this seems good enough as it is. Dull, but effective.
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