Born of the Gods just hit the shelves and that means new toys for the community cube that I maintain. With that in mind I want to review some new cards that we get to play with, and also give an update on the development of the cube. If you missed the original article that tells the story of our cube on mtgUK, check it out here.
First up, we’re going to begin with ‘The Unobtanium’ – the cards I’d like to have in the cube but find it hard to justify trading for them at the moment. Don’t forget, our cube is entirely donation supported and whilst we do have some value cards to trade away for the shiny new things, often times it’s not going to be easy.
[card]Brimaz, King of Oresko[/card]
Whaaaaaat? This card is nuts. Everyone knows this. Just look at that guy. He has a great body for his cost, comes with vigilance and a fantastic ability. In cube, he’s often compared to [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card], but actually, they don’t need to be compared because they can both co-habbit the same cube and have wonderful synergy babies (read: tokens).
Personally I’d love to play mana dork on turn one, Lion King on turn two. Turn three I swing with the Kitty Kat (doing my best “Graham Chapman swings a cat across the studio”impression), make a token, deal four and play [card]Hero of Bladehold[/card]. Next turn I attack with Brimaz for 4, Hero for another 3, token for 2 and make another 3 tokens each swinging for 2. That is a total of 19 damage by turn four. Yes please.
[card]Kiora, the Crashing Wave[/card]
I am very much on the “Kiora is awesome” bandwagon. Although I suspect to be proven wrong soon. It seems everyone is divided on her, so I won’t speculate too much. Our cube is planeswalker heavy and that’s all-right with me. I love playing with planeswalkers and I think they make the game more interesting, and this is definitely one that can find a home in the box.
In limited she’s harder to deal with even with her low loyalty, and with a potentially smaller creature count on the field, her +1 will easily carry you on that wave of mutilation, all the way to 9/9 kraken land. Did I mention explore is good?
[card]Xenagos, God of Revels[/card]
Even though I list him under the unobtainables, ironically I have managed to already procure one, giving the red and green a much needed boost. This is exactly what our cube wants. It makes our big dumb green guys much much better and we can have [card]Thundermaw Hellkite[/card] swinging for 10/10 (two turn clock).
With this guy, it’s not so much about his potential body, although that’s a nice upside,it’s the degenerate things he could do in any cube. I can totally see a deck where a [card]Griselbrand[/card] is cheated into play ([card]Elvish Piper[/card], [card]Sneak Attack[/card] or [card]Show and Tell[/card]) and then swings for 14/14 flying with lifelink and haste.
The only question that remains is: do I want to draw 14 cards or 21? I hear you saying that this is ‘win more’ and I totally agree. It’s also ‘fun more’.
Next we have the auto-includes. Cards that we could realistically trade for and receive as donations.
[card]Phenax, God of Deception[/card]
I have to admit something. I’m just not a fan of milling. I think in Limited formats milling cards are either completely useless or ridiculously broken ([card]Traumatize[/card] vs. [card]Sword of Body and Mind[/card]).
Phenax seems to fall somewhere in between which is a rare occurrence and it’s making me think that he’ll be a great cube addition. In any cube he’ll require cards with big toughness that tag along with him. The sad thing is that most high toughness cards come neither in black nor in blue, but I’m sure some trawling of Gatherer will yield fruitful results.
[card]Fanatic of Xenagos[/card]
There’s a very widely known and basic game theory that states that giving your opponent a choice is always bad, because he’ll choose what’s best for him and not for you. I’d like to propose a scenario. Say you have a friend over and you’re planning to share some ice-cream. You have three flavours in the freezer – strawberry (bleugh), orange (oh god why would you ever?), and chocolate almond (please feed me these all day long).
Now, seeing as you hypothetically hate the strawberry and orange, and love the chocolate almond, you want your friend to somehow choose one of the first two. The obvious thing to do is give him the choice of either orange or strawberry, and neglect to mention the third one.
Both choices are good for you, and creates the illusion that he or she is choosing something that is beneficial for them. So whilst my opponent is deciding whether to pay tribute or not, I’ll just stare at him, with a chocolate almond in my hand. Because no matter how he hits the battlefield – he’s always value for mana. Mmmmm so good.
Carrying the analogy further, this is a card without any chocolate almond. It seems like with this card, the opponent will always get to manipulate it towards what’s best for him, although I feel that out of all the other tribute cards (not counting the Fanatic) this is the best one, so I’d be willing to give it a try. It is quite aggresive and has evasion which makes it even better. Not sure if this would be an auto-include in any cube, but red is the weakest colour of the community cube so I welcome any viable addition.
This card is the mutt’s nuts. The bee’s knees. It’s a [card]Grizzly Bear[/card] (which is OK) that untaps your [card]Thran Dynamo[/card] or your [card]Gilded Lotus[/card] (which is insane). Would you like to kill two guys with [card]Visara the Dreadful[/card]? Go right ahead. It has so many applications that no matter what your cube is, it will find something to do and be useful.
The usefulness of this card depends on one variable. Does your cube have a lot of planeswalkers and can support a control archetype? If the answer to both is yes, then you definitely want this in your cube. Whilst narrow and expensive, it can turn an unwinable boardstate into an advantageous position. Definitely one to consider.
Trample effects are always welcome, and card draw is fantastic. Again, whilst expensive, this will definitely find a home in some draftable archetypes (selesnya aggro/weenie) as the top of the curve. There’s nothing quite as good in limited as the ability to refresh your hand. I watched this card smash face in many pre-release matches and I suspect it will do the same in Cube.
[card]Courser of Kruphix[/card]
Whilst I never got behind [card]Oracle of Mul Daya[/card], people tell me that that card is good. They also say that this card is good as well. Having not played with it, I have no idea why. I guess I just have to chuck it in the cube and see for myself.
And finally we get to the honorable mentions. These cards I’m not considering putting in the cube because of lack of synergy or the requirement to build around them, but they might just find a home in someone else’s cube.
If you’re looking for a planeswalker removal spell then look no further. I think the card is good but triple red is a pain in limited even with all the colour fixing.
[card]Hero of Iroas[/card]
I think this guy could be great if your cube is boasting a lot of auras and a decent white weenie strategy. The community cube lacks a good amount of auras and I’m not willing to change that.
[card]Drown in Sorrow[/card]
A sweeper is good and scrying is also good. I think that our cube has better black sweepers already, so I’m giving this one a miss, but very close.
So with so much choice it’s time to review our 360 and make some changes. First of all, we received some donations in the form of [card]Fanatic of Xenagos[/card], [card]Xenagos, God of Revels[/card], [card]Phenax, God of Deception[/card], [card]Kiora’s Follower[/card], [card]Flame-Wreathed Phoenix[/card] and [card]Fated Retribution[/card].
All of these are great and will be replacing [card]Rhada, Heir to Keld[/card], [card]Polis Crusher[/card], [card]Mind Grind[/card], [card]Give // Take[/card], [card]Krenko, Mob Boss[/card] and [card]Planar Cleansing[/card]. We will also replace the [card]Goblin Chieftain[/card] (which buffs one other card in the cube and is useless) and [card]Battle Hymn[/card] (no synergy) with [card]Chandra’s Phoenix[/card] and [card]Ash Zealot[/card] – my personal donations.
Last but not least, we will be adding an [card]Inkwell Leviathan[/card] and removing [card]Blue Sun’s Zenith[/card]. The card was an initial donation to the cube but didn’t find a home at first. With the addition of [card]Tinker[/card], we now need a good finisher to seal the deal. Hopefully all these cards with red mana symbols will give red a much needed boost.
I always wanted to have Fetchlands to draft with. They search for shocklands, shuffle our library after a [card]Brainstorm[/card] or [card]Jace, the Mind Sculptor[/card] activation and can be recurred with [card]Deathrite Shaman[/card] (and possibly with [card]Crucible of Worlds[/card] if I manage to secure that card).
But they are prohibitively expensive. Having all ten would bump up the value of the entire cube by 50% – so this dream is out of reach. And I imagine quite a few aspiring cube builders feel the same way – not everyone can afford fetchlands and that’s the truth. Fortunately for us, the first iteration of Fetchlands from Mirage block ([card]Bad River[/card], [card]Flood Plain[/card], [card]Rocky Tar Pit[/card], [card]Mountain Valley[/card] and [card]Grasslands[/card]) are not expensive at all.
Unlike their more successful cousins, they come into play tapped but have the upside of not making you lose one life when you activate them. Most importantly, they only cost 35p each on Manaleak.com and I would highly recommend including them as a budget version of Fetches. I know I’m certainly ordering some with the cube funds we had from trading off cards in the past.
Some cards simply need to be cut. We have 3 Swords (War and Peace, Feast and Famine and Light and Shadow). Functionally they are the same card and that is just a bit dull. Ideally I’d like to trim that number down to one and use the funds to acquire a [card]Umezawa’s Jitte[/card], still enabling all the artifact strategies, same power level, but adding some variety.
[card]Mutavault[/card] simply needs to go. That is a very expensive card right now and much in demand and completely wasted in the cube. Ideally I’d like replace him with a [card]Sneak Attack[/card].
Merfolk and mono-blue seems to be a developing theme so I’m interested in adding some gas there. [card]Merrow Reejerey[/card] and [card]Grand Architect[/card] are on my wishlist. Last but not least, green needs some support so I’m looking for a [card]Thrun, the Last Troll[/card] and [card]Deranged Hermit[/card]. Hopefully I can get my hands on these cards before our next cube game!
Going forward, cube players have exciting times ahead. Journey into Nyx is not too far away, and the spoilers for [card]Cogwork Librarian[/card] make my mouth water with anticipation of the rumoured Conspiracy set. I’ll be first in line when it actually hits the stores, revelling at the new cardboard toys we’ll get.
Thanks for reading, thanks for sharing,