In the last blog post, I talked about making some changes to my cube since I changed the guild system around.
-Mentor of the Meek, -Eternal Dragon
+Shrine of Loyal Legions, +Weathered Wayfarer
Not much change going on here, Mentor pretty much performed as I had thought, being really good when good but not so much when running low on gas. I’ve been impressed with the red shrine and I don’t think the white shrine will be as good, as part of the usefulness of the red shrine was its ability to deal a ton of damage out of nowhere, where you have to wait a turn to reap the benefits from the white shrine. It should be solid but if it doesn’t work out, there’s always a lot of other 2-drops in white to take its place.
I’ve also found myself less and less impressed with Eternal Dragon over time, mainly using it as a way to manafix/grind card advantage in midrange/control mirrors as the upkeep recursion is quite awkward (but better than, say, Hammer of Bogardan) but it probably should return with this update’s push for reanimation/ramp strategies. However, I don’t think Elesh Norn is the right cut for it either, despite it looking like it fails the terminate test (as it usually takes down at least something when cast and almost always blanks opposing creatures.)
-Ponder, -Impulse, -Gifts Ungiven
+Into the Roil, +Repeal, +Misdirection
I cut some of the more safe cards to give tempo decks some tools to cheaply bounce opposing permanents and to protect attackers. I’d like to fit some more support for artifact-based decks through cards like Trinket Mage, Thirst for Knowledge, Tezzeret the Seeker and some other cards like Standstill and more creatures, but room’s really tight in blue – I had more room for more creatures when I was running 64 cards in each color, but there isn’t much room right now.
+Entomb, +Skittering Skirge, +Contagion
-Black Knight, -Juzam Djinn, -Night’s Whisper
I’ve never ran Entomb in my cube but I think it should be decent, I’m trying to give reanimation and ramp strategies a bit more support and BG should get a bit more of an identity. The creatures being cut are ones that have been solid, especially Juzam Djinn (as I don’t really care about its drawback) but think that the other 4-mana black creatures are more important to black’s archetypes – like I think something like Skinrender/Nekrataal are better curve toppers for aggro/midrange targets to ramp into. As for Black Knight vs Skittering Skirge, I’ve been happy with the Skirge so far (and while its drawback has mattered, it hasn’t been as much as I’d have thought without trying it) and many of the Knights have been… ok, for lack of better terms, without really being very exciting or better than my existing 2-drops (even Blind Creeper, another card which looks much better than its drawback makes it look.)
While I’m not going to abandon black aggro support, I’d like to get some more midrange/reanimation support in here with creatures like Drana, Makeshift Mannequin, Black Sun’s Zenith and Liliana Vess (although the latter two haven’t impressed me that much – BSZ because of it being a nombo with large creatures, unlike many earthquake-style effects and Liliana Vess, who never really felt like it had enough of a board impact to make her worthwhile aside from midrange/control mirrors, where she shines.)
-Instigator Gang, -Fireslinger, -Chaos Warp, -Ghitu Slinger
+Faithless Looting, +Keldon Champion, +Pyroclasm, +Earthquake
A lot of these changes could easily be changed back and are mostly experimental (I could see Fireslinger becoming Pyroclasm again) but the others feel like upgrades: Keldon Champion should help aggressive decks more than Instigator Gang. Keldon Champion’s been in and out of my cube for some time and I’m not sure how long it’ll be in my cube this time, but it should probably stay for some time. Faithless Looting should be nice in red aggro decks (and has so far based on the limited testing that I’ve had time for so far,) and Earthquake should be a nice complement for the rolling counterpart.
-Pelakka Wurm, -Ambush Viper, -Harrow
+Birthing Pod, +Wall of Roots, +Hornet Queen
Hornet Queen replacing Pelakka Wurm is an experiment to see whether Moldgraf is better than the Hornet Queen, but it looks like the hornet will win out – it’s such a pain for opposing decks to attack into, especially midrange and control decks and while the potential upside on Moldgraf is better, I don’t know if the overall effect is better than Hornet Queen’s. I’m probably going to add Terastodon (and if a good 6-mana ramp target gets printed) to my cube in the near future (Graveborn foil!) as another reanimation/ramp target as it’s a nice thing to ramp into/cheat into play and I’d like to give ramp decks more of an incentive to go into that strategy. I saw Birthing Pod do some sick things in Kranny’s cube so I’m giving it a shot, hopefully it’ll be a good card with all of the great ETB creatures in cube.
+Aether Vial, +Tectonic Edge
-Icy Manipulator, -Bonehoard
Some other minor changes. I really like Bonehoard, but think that competition at 4 mana is really tight and want to see how Aether Vial is for aggressive and midrange decks, particularly ones with tricky mana bases. Similarly with Icy Manipulator, but I could easily see it coming back, possibly over Precursor Golem (although that card has been very solid as well, typically its drawback isn’t that awful since a lot of removal is strapped onto non-instant/sorcery effects, like FTK/Skinrender/Viridian Shaman/Ajani Vengeant and even then, a 5 mana 9/3 that dies to bolts/Doom Blades is still more than fine.)
-Oona, Queen of the Fae, -Olivia Voldaren, -Stormbind, -Mirari’s Wake, -Goblin Trenches, -Mystic Snake, -Spiritmonger, -Mortify
+Tezzeret, Agent of Bolas, +Sulfurous Springs, +Kessig Wolf Run, +Stirring Wildwood, +Rugged Prairie, +Simic Signet, +Golgari Rot Farm, +Caves of Koilos
This change was talked about in the last blog post, so I won’t go too much into detail on it, but it seems like a lot of the multicolor cards that were cut were on the weak side and aggressive decks will get more manafixing. Green also gets some nice lands which is nice for Primeval Titan and is coincidentally nice for the push for green ramp decks.
Overall, I’m liking this update, especially the changing to the guild system, as I think it addresses the difference between multicolor spells (which make less decks) and manafixing (which will almost always make the appropriate deck.) It doesn’t address hybrid cards, as they’re just better than multicolor (Murderous Redcap’s cost is better than if it was 2BR) but I’m ok with that, at least for now, since using a full cycle would result in me having to use awful hybrids like … whatever there is in BG (Gleancrawler? Diety of Scars?) In revamping the guild system, I may also end up adding Barbarian Ring and Kor Kaven/Kjeldoran Outpost, as both of those cards are non-embarassing lands that complete the cycle, but it’s not a huge priority right now.
I’ve also updated my cube listing on tappedout.net (Faithless Looting is Forked Bolt there) and calculated my cube’s converted mana cost average (2.8372.)