Revising the Guild System   7 comments

I’ve been thinking about the “guild” system used for cubes.  My cube has used it for a while, but I’ve been considering making a change to it.

The premise of the guild system is a “have your cake and eat it too” with the Ravnica manafixers.  The main problem with them isn’t that they’re too good and make aggro suck (which is incorrect, I’ll write an article about, likely in a few weeks) but moreso that the ones in non-control archetypes like Boros Signet, Gruul Signet and Rakdos Signet aren’t very good for those decks, since they’re aggressive in nature.  Similarly with the “bouncelands”, the turn lost is huge for those decks that want to end the game ASAP – so they just end up as splash enablers or cards in 5CC, giving it an insane manabase.

The guild system seeks to address that by allowing those colors to have multicolor cards in the place of the suboptimal fixers (at least, in those guilds.)  BR has little use for Rakdos Signet, so it gets Blazing Specter/Blightning/Sarkhan the Mad (whichever of those you feel like using.)  UW likes its signet so it gets it in lieu of something suboptimal like Mistmeadow Witch/Plumeveil/Augury Adept.  Everyone wins.  Right?  Well, not really.

The main problem is that manafixers, particularly land, play a unique role in cube in that if you’re in the guild, a (good) fixer is almost never going in your sideboard.  (Ones like Boros Garrison and Gruul Signet probably will, but they’re not very good.)  While, in theory, it makes color combinations play to their strengths, the ones with superior manafixing get a bigger boost.  Combine with the fact that no matter how good multicolor cards are, they’re harder to cast (and thus are harder to cast) and it doesn’t really live up to its expectations.

In my QS article “Governing the Guildless,” I talked about using something similar to the wildcard method but never got around to it, maybe because I could never think of what to cut from BG to make it work.

To address the point that mana plays differently than multicolor due to the much higher maindeck %, I’m going to revise the guild system into the following.

Artifacts, multicolor, (multicolor) mana.

Artifacts are pretty obvious, the same with multicolor (using the ‘functional’ method as described in my article.  In other words, Kird Ape is a RG card) and mana being its own section.

The 10 colorless “mana” lands stay the same.  Artifacts don’t require any cuts either.

The (multicolor) “mana” section will have each color combination having the 3 staple cycles – the original duals (Tundra,) the Ravnica shockland cycle (Hallowed Fountain,) and the Zendikar/Onslaught fetchland cycle (Flooded Strand.)  The multicolor pairs will get 2 pairs of additional aligned fixers: (new cards bolded and italicized)

UW: Celestial Colonnade, Azorius Signet
UR: Izzet Boilerworks, Izzet Signet
UG: Simic Growth Chamber, Simic Signet
UB: Creeping Tar Pit, Dimir Signet
WR: Rugged Prairie, Battlefield Forge
WG: Brushland, Horizon Canopy
GR: Karplusan Forest, Raging Ravine
GB: Twilight Mire, Golgari Rot Farm
RB: Sulfurous Springs, Lavaclaw Reaches
WB: Orzhov Signet, Fetid Heath

In addition to the multicolor cards themselves being cut to 3 (cards being cut in parentheses and italicized.)

UW: Venser, the Sojourner, Wall of Denial, Grand Arbiter Augustin IV (NONE)
UR: Fire/Ice, Electrolyze, Prophetic Bolt (Gelectrode)
UG: Simic Sky Swallower, Mystic Snake, Trygon Predator (Edric, Spymaster of Trest)
UB: Oona, Queen of the Fae, Psychatog, Shadowmage Infiltrator (NONE)
WR: Ajani Vengeant, Lightning Helix, Figure of Destiny (Goblin Trenches)
WG: Kitchen Finks, Qasali Pridemage, Mirari’s Wake (Loam Lion)
GR: Kird Ape, Bloodbraid Elf, Sarkhan Vol (Stormbind)
GB: Maelstrom Pulse, Putrefy, Pernicious Deed (Putrid Leech, Spiritmonger)
RB: Terminate, Bituminous Blast, Murderous Redcap (Blazing Specter)
WB: Stillmoon Cavalier, Desolation Angel, Vindicate (Mortify)

Which essentially just means that multicolor cards got cut for fixers.  I’d probably have cut the “wildcard cycle” to one, but UB and WU would have to go down to either manland or signet and I don’t know if I’m ready to make that cut yet (but, granted, cube is all about making hard cuts.)  In a similar vein, most of the multicolor cuts were easy when it came down to it,  but a few were hard (Mortify, Putrid Leech.)  If I did cut a card from the ‘wildcard’ cycle, they’d probably go to WUBRG with 2 cards added for each or 5 artifacts and 1 to WUBRG.  The funny thing is that if I were to cut a manafixer from each color pair, most of the new ones would be the ones to cut.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t address my having cards like Volrath’s Stronghold in black and things like that.  It’s still a work in progress and I may address that when I do more of the changes to the system, it just feels rather awkward having that inconsistency.  Still, I think the “mana” system addresses the main problem with the guild system – that mana and multicolor cards are at pretty opposite ends of the spectrum, playability-wise.

Let me know what you think of the idea/cuts, etc.   Thanks!


Posted July 16, 2011 by Usman in Usman's Cube

7 responses to “Revising the Guild System

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  1. I liked the idea until I read you were thinking of cutting Spirit Monger. Don’t do that. What did Spirit Monger ever do to you? Sad Spirit Monger ='(

    • It’s either Spiritmonger or Putrefy. 😦 Green has a ton of awesome 5 drops (including new Garruk, who essentially is a 5-drop creature) already. Cutting the Golgari cards down to 3 was probably the biggest reason for why it took me so long to give the idea a whirl.

  2. why don’t you just have 5 slots for utility lands and choose one from each color like many of us do?

  3. I don’t know how much it would bother me to know that I’m running an artifact fixer over a land fixer. I’m currently doing something in the middle of this and the guild system. I just moved the cubeable Signets to multicolor and created a wildcard section in my lands that lets me run whatever land I want for that color pair (I run two per pair, though). In the end, it’s just a matter of organization and how you prefer to organize it. For the most part, we’re all still running the same cards, we just label them differently.

    Of the cuts, there’s certainly some tough ones there. I think I’d keep Putrid Leech over Putrefy and Spiritmonger. Black and green both have excellent five drops and they both also tend to have plenty of artifact/creature removal. I think I’d value the extra aggro dude more than the extra removal spell. I also don’t think I’d cut Edric. To be honest, the more play he sees, the higher I value that guy. I really think I’d run him over Mystic Snake at this point. It’s kind of a toss up, but I think I’d do that just to give him more time to shine. And finally Stormbind had to be a really tough cut, but that ultimately just comes down to which you prefer more: Sarkhan Vol or Stormbind. I think I’d take the Stormbind because I really like that sort of card, but there’s nothing wrong with keeping Sarkhan either.

    Keep us posted on how the change works for you. Oh, and get on AIM more. 😀

  4. I’m actually shocked that Mirari’s Wake makes the cut for W/G. W/G has a lot of options to get ahead on mana and it’s creatures are typically better than other colors when it comes to body size. I can’t recall what all I have in my cube at that slot but there a lot of awesome cards in that guild. Most are value cards but W/G is all about midrange and value typically. I might have that guy who makes wolves and pumps you’re white and green creatures… from Ravnica.

    Cutting down on multicolor cards was one of the first thing I did with my cube as I got more serious with it. They weren’t played enough and went far later than they should because people didn’t want to commit. I have 3 of each “guild” and 1 of each shard. The Shard cards should be cut but I’ve just been lazy about it. Also I love the three mana charms and they take up a few of my shard slots. They aren’t nearly good enough and rarely if ever make decks but meh, it’s my cube 😛

    • Mirari’s Wake is WAY more game-changing than Tolsimir Wolfblood! I can probably count on one hand the amount of games I’ve lost after untapping with MW.

      And I would keep Boggart Ram-Gang over either Sarhkan or Stormbind.


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