Although a lot of the changes involve cards from Avacyn Restored, note that this update isn’t just adding what cards are “good enough” for my cube. Every update in my cube is a Kaizen-style revisiting of the environment, looking for ways to continually improve it. This one is no exception.
Changelog to come later, but I’m mainly making some changes to encourage different archetypes – white aggro/tokens, green ramp, reanimator, blue tempo, etc. This update was inspired by recent experience with the Magic Online cube and I’ll probably push things in those directions harder once I get more data on this update in picture form (behind the cut.)
Loyal Cathar, Blade Splicer, Kor Sanctifiers, Ranger of Eos, Journey to Nowhere, Rout
Fiend Hunter, Restoration Angel, Silverblade Paladin, Karmic Guide, Honor of the Pure, Eight-and-a-Half Tails
I started pushing tokens more with this update as well as ways to pump them. I brought back Karmic Guide and want to find room for cards like Jubilation Angel, Blade Splicer and Geist-Honored Monk in here to push that archetype over the top, but I don’t think I have the room. I also brought Opposition back in blue to combine well with the white token generators. I ended up cutting Kor Sancitifiers to get more 4-drops in (mainly Restoration Angel) despite it being really good, and cards like Rout and Journey were done to shape the environment (Rout) and to cut a “safe” card that’s a middle-pick usually for other cards that should do more for the archetypes (Honor of the Pure.) Whether it catches on, I’m not sure, but I’m liking this update as it gives white a really good identity – generating hordes of guys, taking equipment/pants highly, smashing face. I’m also wondering if I should bring cards like Burn at the Stake or Overrun on board to support this strategy. Regardless, I’m really looking forward to seeing how people will adopt those strategies.
Keiga, the Tide Star, Capsize, Trinket Mage, Sphinx of Jwar Isle, Ponder, Lu Xun, Scholar General, (Tolarian Academy moved to colorless)
Waterfront Bouncer, Frantic Search, Tamiyo, the Moon Sage, Fettergeist, Mindshrieker, Daze, Opposition
For blue tempo decks and to increase the efficiency of spells in blue in general – really wanted to add Spell Pierce and Memory Lapse (along with a few other creatures, especially Trinket Mage and Delver of Secrets, who has been very good when I was testing him) as I’m not running cards like Capsize because they’re just not very efficient and rather clunky but another finisher like Sphinx/Keiga could probably come back.
I’d actually really like to get more creatures in here in general like the aforementioned guys and Old Man of the Sea, but with supporting things like reanimation (through pitch spells) and tempo without cutting power, things are ridiculously tight in blue. Granted, there is still room for the AVR updates, as Fettergeist has been very good and Tamiyo is, well, as expected. Since I don’t run original Tezzeret, she’s likely the worst mono-blue planeswalker in my cube, but that’s just fine as she’s still really good. I’d also like to get Deadeye Navigator in here as he’s just stupid with any kind of blink effect (EOT blink Cloudgoat 3 times) but again, the room thing rears its ugly head.
Regardless, this pushing more of the tempo/reanimation archetype should help give blue some more identity than simply the control color – I’ve been giving the tempo deck more love and while it hasn’t been mono-control due to seeing some sick tempo decks (see the “this should be a Delver deck” post), but this should diversify it a bit as well.
Sewer Nemesis, Tombstalker, Skittering Skirge, Sorin Markov, Graveborn Muse
Geralf’s Messenger, Bloodline Keeper, Entomb, Makeshift Mannequin, Ink-Eyes, Servant of Oni
Ink-Eyes is a card that’s falling out of many peoples’ favors but I’ve had her on my radar for some time, since cubing with Anthony’s cube in Indy and blowing someone out and having/seeing positive experience with her since as a curve-topper for aggro, I’ve been looking to get her back in. With the increased aggro support from cards like Geralf’s Messenger, this should be a welcome add, as well as the other reanimation spells. I’d like to also get Griselbrand in here as a reanimation target, but I have no idea if it’s the call. I also really wish for another good 2-drop in black, as Geralf’s Messenger has been a stellar 3-drop for black, arguably the best (as it’s certainly not just a mono-black guy. So much value, so sick.)
I’m thinking that Graveborn Muse should stay as it helps the black aggro decks keep getting gas with a drawback that they don’t care about – cutting it for Bloodline Keeper may be the call, but I’ve been liking Bloodline as a pseudo-4 mana Bitterblossom (with obviously more vulnerability.) Not sure though, thoughts?
Pyroclasm, Chandra, the Firebrand, Dwarven Blastminer, Earthquake
Lightning Mauler, Zealous Conscripts, Kiki-Jiki, Mirror Breaker, Zo-Zu, the Punisher
Trying to shake things up a bit with Kiki-Jiki, another card that I wouldn’t have dared add years ago. I’m hoping this works well with blink.dec, but wondering if it’ll just cost too much as it’s just abysmal without friends (but insane with them, especially non-legendary ones with ETB triggers.) I’m going to consider pushing red ramp a bit, maybe another X spell like Fireball or something like that or some Wildfire type of effects/Sneak Attack types of things or even Hound of Griselbrand to try that guy out as it seems a lot better than initial impressions lead me to believe.
Pelakka Wurm, Nantuko Vigilante, Krosan Tusker, Twinblade Slasher, Mire Boa, River Boa, Phantom Centaur
Somberwald Sage, Wolfir Silverheart, Wolfir Avenger, Ulvenwald Tracker, Cloudthresher, Wall of Roots, Arbor Elf
Many ramp-friendly effects were added, I’m not looking to jump on the “green aggro sucks” bandwagon as, at least in the 1-drop slot, the 2/xs are very good and suffer from some terribly bad press regarding their drawbacks (I’ve had Wild Dogs switch sides on me twice in my entire time of running it in my cube) that reminds me way too much of card evaluation from the early days of Magic (“Why do I want to play Necropotence? I don’t draw anymore and pay life to draw!”) Wolfir Silverheart is just stupid good by giving a lot of power out of nowhere, I was able to successfully race people out of nowhere with it and I’m trying it along with Vorapede in my section. I’d really like to get Nest Invader back in here, it’s a card that hasn’t gotten that much love from the cube community as a whole, but it’s nice as a ramp card and was nice when testing. But, you know, limited space and all. I also don’t know if I should cut something like Terastodon for Pelakka Wurm, as the former is a better reanimation target and the latter is a better ramp target. Cloudthresher is a card I dismissed a while ago as something for just bad mono green decks, but like how I found Geralf’s Messenger wasn’t just for mono-black, Cloudthresher fits easily in green midrange/ramp decks and has been doing work since I added him in. Ulvenwald Tracker has been really good so far(it’s especially fun when you do things like use it with a Treetop Village that just came into play tapped) and is probably the most aggressively costed Arena/Contested Cliffs variant we’ve ever seen – and it works well with green’s ramp strategy of cranking out huge dudes and having Don King arrange fights where your guy is the winner.
I also cut some of the removal cards like Beast Within and Bramblecrush and I’m wondering if that’s the right call. It may very well be but I don’t know if green has enough answers to things, especially with cutting things like Nantuko Vigilante. Cutting Phantom Centaur also just seems wrong, but looked like the weakest out of the 4-drops and cutting something like Somberwald Sage may be the cut, despite Somberwald Sage being quite underrated right now.
Ring of Gix, Tectonic Edge, Chrome Mox
Precursor Golem, Tolarian Academy, Gaea’s Cradle
In testing, I cut the Masticores but brought them back by kicking out cards like Tectonic Edge and Chrome Mox. Not sure if this is the right call. I may also try something like Kozilek as a ramp target, but I’ll see how the current environment is before trying him out.
Loam Lion, Stirring Wildwood, Psychatog
Sigarda, Host of Herons, Gavony Township, Nemesis of Reason
Not that much changed in allied multicolor – I replaced Stirring Wildwood for Gavony Township to go with the token theme and Sigarda’s over Loam Lion because she’s just stupidly good (and Loam Lion, as efficient as it is, is the more narrow of the cards in here. That and GW goes towards midrange in my cube more than going aggro.) I’m trying Nemesis of Reason in place of Psychatog but that already just seems to be wrong but again, may end up changing that soon and changing Nemesis back into Dr. Teeth.
Caves of Koilos, Izzet Boilerworks, Rugged Prairie
Stillmoon Cavalier, Desolate Lighthouse, Slayers’ Stronghold
Similar with enemy multi, aside from adding the new “spell lands.” I’m tinkering with the guild system further to put cards like Kitchen Finks and cards like Dimir Signet into hybrid (as you can run Dimir Signet in blue or black decks, but you’ll be most happy with it in UB.) It’s a work in progress and that’s why something like Stillmoon Cavalier is there and looks a bit odd – it’s mostly there aside from Gruul needing Boggart Ram-Gang (another card that I’ve gained a ton of respect for lately.)
I also ended up cutting the tri-color cards, which I again found weren’t really worth the space. At least, the non-Bolas, non-Maelstrom Wanderer ones.
Here’s a link to tappedout.net to draft it, I’ve updated the list there with my AVR updates. You do have to register to the site, but it’s pretty painless.