I took my sweet time, but here’s my commons cube update. I focused my attention towards my commons cube when I was helping to build Ogre’s Games’ cube (which, unfortunately was never drafted since conversations tended to go “Sure, I’d like to cube draft.” “I just have my commons one here, my regular cube’s still in shambles.” “Oh. I’ve gotta playtest my EDH deck. And do my taxes.”) My commons cube has been like a side project, so now that I did some work on the main project, the side project could get some things done. Some of these changes were the result of discussion on MTGSalvation’s Cube Forum’s Pauper Cube Evaluation thread.
Rant aside, here’s what I’ve done.
The 1-mana suspend creatures are an odd bunch. They’re counterintuitive in that they’re actually not that great in aggro decks since you want your creatures to be attacking in the early parts of the game and cheap suspenders spend a LOT of time exiled. On turn 4, the Knight isn’t terribly impressive and thinking about it in further detail got me to cutting it. Trapper’s 0 mana cost has been nice since there’s a Shivan Gorge‘s distance between paying 0 mana and 1. I’ve rarely seen the trapper’s untap trigger that happen much and 4 mana is a TON of mana for a tapper. Dude’s gotta go. Renewed Faith and Safe Passage were pretty weak defensive cards that I don’t feel are needed right now (and if I was going to add a lifegainer, I’d add Temple Acolyte, but I think Lone Missionary does the job well enough.) Niveous Wisps came from thinking about Panic Spellbomb and realizing that the Wisps were an upgrade – cheaper, able to be used at the end of your turn and marginally useful by turning creatures white for Doom Blade/Terror. Cards like Niveous Wisps and Youthful Knight should help the offensive decks. Wall of Glare‘s a card that’s been talked about in the MTGS thread – I’m not a huge fan of walls that do nothing aside from blocking unless they’re really good at the job (Wall of Denial) as cards like Halimar Wavewatch and Wall of Roots do things aside from blocking well. I’m hoping that Wall of Glare‘s ability to block 2+ things and 5 toughness can put it into playable range. Angelic of Renewal should act as a Seal of Graceful Reprieve, acting like it did when damage went on the stack, since the creature still deals damage in combat.
I included Silver Myr because I figured that even a bad mana ramp card would be good for the color. When it came to cutting things for Seer and Foresee, I realized that blue doesn’t need suboptimal mana ramp to be good. Blue already has the signets and Mind Stone and doesn’t need a bad ramp card. Oona’s Grace is a really good card, one that I think could come back in, but I think that the card advantage and filtering from Foresee beats it. Grace may end up replacing Fathom Seer in the future, it’s a card that I have hopes for.
I’m not sure what happened, I think that I had the sections mismatched when I was using this cube as my card bank, as I tended to get cards for Ogre’s Cube and my cube from here. Cadaver Imp is a card that has been better than expected, but still a card that I’m not the hugest fan of. There’s a huge distance between 1 and 2 power, but evasion helps its body become relevant. Still, I’d take Gravedigger over it. One thing that I’m noticing is that there’s a TON of 2 and 3-drop creatures, so I’m going to give this section another look. Child of Night was a card that I wasn’t too big on adding and I don’t think that I’ll miss it. It has a relatively weak body and its lifelink doesn’t really push it into the realm of playability as good lifelinkers are solid on their own (Knight of Meadowgrain and Baneslayer Angel in powered cubes.) Unburden should be a solid discard effect, Mind Rot‘s on the cusp of playability but it can be useless in the lategame. Thankfully, Unburden cycles. Unearth is a card that I’ve heard good things about – may be useful in aggressive strategies and can recur some creatures with ETB triggers like Cadaver Imp and Civic Wayfinder. Cycling also helps its playability.
Discussion with Adam Styborski made me realize that Pyrite Spellbomb is pretty good when considered as a 1R 2 damage card with (sorcery speed) cycling. War Buggy and Mage eventually left due to weakness and I feel that Fault Riders should be a decent card here. 4 power + first strike is hard to beat (which is why I’ve been impressed with Keldon Halberdier) and red decks typically won’t need too many lands to run. Will Ruinous Minotaur come in? I think it will, eventually.
Naturalize got replaced by its cheaper 1 mana cousin and I think that the lifeloss should be a fine drawback. There’s also the ability to be able to Claim your own cards when you’re going to die from being at -2 life. Siege Wurm got the axe because I feel that there are enough ramp targets in here and that many already have ways to be used for less mana like Mold Shambler and Kavu Primarch without kicker. Charge was a card that I felt wasn’t needed with other arguably stronger pump effects. The 2 mana creatures should be solid in many decks, even though Nissa’s Chosen is a weaker Elvish Warrior (at least in decks like GB with graveyard recursion effects.) There are a few 4G 4/4 creatures at common – Barkhide Mauler has cycling and Stampeding Rhino has trample, Spike Colony has counters to throw around, Plated Spider has reach, Silverglade Elemental fetches a forest (but that seems pretty useless at that stage of the game), Territorial Baloth has a +2/+2 EOT landfall trigger and Spined Wurm trades these bonuses for a 5/4 body. Molder’s a 5/3 trampler instead. 3 is a pretty awful toughness against red decks and some black removal, but the 5 power may be useful. Its ability isn’t going to happen that often, but it’s worth a shot. I think that Woodreaders is pretty overcosted and green’s creature-oriented card advantage mechanisms do the job better than Woodreaders.
Soul Manipulation is a really hard cut, but I feel that Dimir Infiltrator may be better due to its ability to transmute since UB has so many good cards at 2 mana – Terror/Doom Blade, Halimar Wavewatch and Skittering Skirge. Its unblockability and 1/3 body aren’t amazing in UB, but not too shabby either.
If 4 toughness is a tough nut to crack, 5 is even harder, making Skyward Eye really hard to block if the controller has 3G open. The problem with green cascade cards is that it can hit things like mana elves – while Bloodbraid Elf is an obvious exception to this (hitting a mana elf with Bloodbraid is fine since 3 hasty power comes with it.) Sunlight? Not so much.
Both artifacts were filler cards, Chromatic Star being the poster child for filler cards. Playable in many decks, but a pretty weak effect on its own and won’t make many final 40s. Skyreach Manta should be typically cast as a 4/4, which is good enough on its own as 4 power of flying is really strong – Windrider Eel and Illusionary Forces are strong because of this. I haven’t had many problems with getting to 4 counters with Opaline Bracers, so Skyreach Manta should be an Air Elemental pretty often. I can’t see it being a 5/5 very often, but if that happens, you’ll probably win unless it’s dealt with ASAP. Darksteel Pendant is a test to see if a 1-card Crystal Ball is worth it in commons. Probably not, but I’m going to see how it works out. 2 cards compared to 1 is pretty huge, after all.