Theros and whatnot update   1 comment

If you’ve come from my latest SCG article talking about the Theros additions to the MTGO cube, I talked about the changes to their list.  I decided that now would be a good time to get my list up and up to date on Cube Tutor with some explanations behind the cut.

In one of my recent articles, I talked about critically evaluating how cards are performing in your cube by looking at maindeck % and their win % to find what cards are working and what aren’t, as it can be easy to fall into anecode-based methods of thought (“See, Card X is good, I saw it win!” [once])  It’s not a perfect system and I’m still working out weights I want to use, as I have equal weights to win % and maindeck % for an overall “contribution %,” which may change, but I’ve been happy with how it’s worked overall to track what’s been working and a lot of the changes in this iteration came from looking with that point of view.

Exalted Angel -> Spear of Heliod
Angel of Serenity -> Ranger of Eos
Catastrophe -> Champion of the Parish
Elspeth Tirel -> Elspeth, Sun’s Champion
Fiend Hunter -> Soldier of the Pantheon

A lot of these changes were done to remove some of the late game chaff from the section. It does pain me to see Exalted Angel go, but it’s just been incredibly slow as a win con and unless it curves into a T3 morph, T4 flip (please please please don’t kill my angel), I found that it was too slow. Ranger has been solid as a 4-drop that can provide some reach for aggressive decks and Champion of the Parish is a card that I’m trying as it seems that the critical mass of humans is there, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it didn’t stay for long. Elspeth got replaced by the newer Elspeth, but it’s more because Elspeth Tirel was very slow and was the planeswalker equivalent of treading water, never really doing much aside from stalling the board and paled in comparison to other 5s in white and I’d rather have Archangel of Thune over it.


Thirst for Knowledge -> Thassa, God of the Sea
Show and Tell -> Prognostic Sphinx
Wake Thrasher -> Tolarian Academy (moving to blue)

The cut of Show and Tell may be one that I undo (or at least, at the cost of something other than prog metal sphinx, since it has been nice as a miser’s magpie that can set up draws) as the card actually works pretty well in most generic blue control decks and I never really found the problem in MTGO cube of being out haymakered by the opponent’s S&T target. Thassa got some slow reception for including but has adapted well as mainly a scry engine with a few benefits. I moved Tolarian Academy into blue as I found that it was never played outside of blue and as such, it came back and Wake Thrasher, although it has HUGE potential to easily outmuscle titans (and as such, may come back), it felt like the most expendable since it rode the bench more than the average blue card.


Carrion Feeder -> Tormented Hero
Wrench Mind -> Yawgmoth’s Will
Abyssal Persecutor -> Hero’s Downfall
Graveborn Muse -> Tombstalker
Shadowborn Demon -> Mogis’s Marauder
Mesmeric Fiend -> Despise
Stronghold Rats -> Profane Command
Sheoldred, Whispering One -> Diabolic Edict
Nether Traitor -> Vampire Hexmage
Victimize -> Bone Shredder
Ultimate Price -> Smallpox
Nether Void -> Nezumi Graverobber
Phyrexian Reclamation -> Pox

These changes came about from finding a happy medium of going into the Pox strategy and going into general good stuff black. When going into that strategy, I felt like there were a lot of quality cards that I cut for synergy and this update brings a lot of them back, like Vampire Hexmage, Diabolic Edict and Tombstalker.

Presently, I’m weighing how deep I want to go with my removal options and whether I want to bring cards like Gatekeeper of Malakir, Consuming Vapors and other cards that provide a clock while disrupting the opponent, a la the old black disruption decks. Necropotence is another card that I’ve been considering as well as Whip of Erebros (the latter was a card that I was very surprised to not see make it in the Theros iteration of the Magic Online cube, but I don’t think I have the room for it.)


Chandra Nalaar -> Ingot Chewer
Arc Lightning -> Molten Rain
Flames of the Firebrand -> Pillage
Frenzied Goblin -> Lightning Strike
Goblin Ruinblaster -> Hammer of Purphorous
Shrine of Burning Rage -> Faithless Looting
Gorilla Shaman -> Firedrinker Satyr
Reckless Charge -> Purphorous, God of the Forge

In between changes, I brought the Wildfires back in for a last hurrah to see how they could do and their contribution % was too low to really consider worth it, as the cards usually rode the sideboard and diluted the power of red. This change, I felt, was most influenced by the spreadsheet and I’ve felt it work out very well – the color with the highest contribution % is red (followed by green) in my cube which I’m happy to see. I may have gone a bit deep by cutting perhaps more “non-ggro” red elements like Arc Lightning/Flames, but I found that they were relatively inefficient and Chandra Nalaar was typically a weak removal spell/an Arc Spell with suspend more than I’d want. Reckless Charge typically suffered from the “my non-creature spells need to do a lot of work and they’re usually burn/pants/PWs” syndrome, although the damage potential with that card has proved absurd, as well as helping in midrange matchups. It may be a bit hypocritical to talk about how the Magic Online cube did a lot of “like-for-like” changes and for me to replace Gorilla Shaman with Firedrinker Satyr, but the card never did very much and if it wasn’t killing moxen, it wasn’t doing anything and was a weak 1-drop.


Avenger of Zendikar -> Polukranos, World Eater
Rampaging Baloths -> Sylvan Caryatid
Indrik Stomphowler -> Vinelasher Kudzu
Call of the Herd -> Boon Satyr
Eureka -> Gaea’s Cradle

In this iteration, I went back on some of the green ramp elements by cutting some of the more expensive spells and Eureka. Like with some other changes, I may go back a bit on this by adding one of the 6/7 mana duders and adding Eureka back in, but I’m happy with the changes so far. As mentioned before, green has been performing very well as the color with the 2nd highest contribution % and the following is a picture of a sweet GB-based Pox aggro deck that went 3-0 in a recent draft.


All of the changes have been pretty nice, especially Polukranos which may have initially suffered from Giant Solifuge syndrome (spoiled incorrectly with a much higher power level than it actually has -> disappointment -> realizing the card is still very good.) Call of the Herd is a card that I never really took super highly and felt like a “safe card” a la Civic Wayfinder, which are cards that aren’t ones that I’m a fan of and with the potential of BOOM Satyr, it was a change that I was happy with. Stomphowler came in as I felt that I had enough 5s, but could definitely come back as the base effect is very cost-efficient and the effect works well. Side note – recently, there was a “troll stompy” deck that was featured at a recent Legacy open, which made me smile, as Wickerbough Elder was played. 🙂 Also, like with Tolarian Academy, Gaea’s Cradle found its way back into the green section as that was where it was played very often.


One of the big things that happened in this update was creating a hybrid section.  The problem with a lot of hybrid sections was that hybrid sections typically tried to shoe-horn in a hybrid of each color, making it so that cards like Cold-Eyed Selkie (vomit) were shoe-horned in to complete a cycle, which is never a good thing.

For about a year, I’ve been running all of the signets in my cube to see how it turned out and the two talking points of it making aggro and green decks bad was a myth that was busted in that time frame – it was an experiment that I kept going longer than I probably should have because I REALLY wanted to try to make Wildfire decks work with the red signets, and it never really did and signets like Rakdos Signet and Orzhov Signet had abysmal maindeck and contribution %s. Blue has historically had a lot of bad hybrids – one of the few areas where it was bad, but the “EUREKA” moment came when I saw them as hybrid cards.

I then set up a grid to make it so that all of the colors were represented equally. Through that, my hybrid section was as follows:

Card Name: W U B R G
Kitchen Finks X . . . X
Dryad Militant X . . . X
Rakdos Cackler . . X . X
Figure of Destiny X . . X .
Murderous Redcap . . X X .
Fulminator Mage . . X X .
Burning-Tree Emissary . . . X X
Judge’s Familiar X X . . .
Deathrite Shaman . . X . X
Blue Signets X 4 X X X
Totals 5 5 5 6 5

It’s a bit imbalanced as there’s an additional red card, but I honestly don’t think the effect is that huge (and the overall effect is better than shoe-horning in hybrids in the other 4 colors, like running Orzhov Signet + an Izzet hybrid like… Frostburn Weird. Or some other combination.) I haven’t been tracking how often they’re played in their respective color combinations vs mono color (like Kitchen Finks in GR/Murderous Redcap in BU) but anecdotally, I’ve seen them played more often not caring about their “guild,” but it’s something that I’m keeping an eye on in the future. (note that I used Judge’s Familiar instead of Azorius Guildmage as the guildmage isn’t very good if you can’t activate the blue ability. I considered Plumeveil and I’d have to test that to see how often it actually was played in blue and white decks, as opposed to Azorius decks.) I think that this solution is a good compromise between making hybrids into their own section without resorting to including cards to complete a cycle as well as showing that hybrids are mostly different from multicolor for what decks can/can’t use them.

Boros Signet -> Murderous Redcap
Golgari Signet -> Burning-Tree Emissary
Gruul Signet -> Judge’s Familiar
Selesnya Signet -> Fulminator Mage
Rakdos Signet -> Deathrite Shaman
Orzhov Signet -> Reflecting Pool

Scroll Rack -> Crucible of Worlds

Precursor Golem -> Black Vise
Tectonic Edge -> Dust Bowl
Jinxed Choker -> Gemstone Mine
M-T Masticore -> Pithing Needle
Lodestone Golem -> Chrome Mox
Tolarian Academy’s slot -> Undiscovered Paradise
Gaea’s Cradle -> Chained to the Rocks (from Figure of Destiny moving to Hybrid)
Kozilek, Butcher of Truth -> Avacyn’s Pilgrm (from Dryad Militant moving to Hybrid)
Ulamog, the Infinite Gyre -> Spike Jester (from Rakdos Cackler moving to hybrid)
Everflowing Chalice -> Voice of Resurgence (from Kitchen Finks moving to hybrid)
Flinthoof Boar -> Xenagos
Far//Away -> Ashiok, Nightmare Weaver
Fire//Ice -> Steam Augury

It was about a wash as cutting 6 signets let me add some hybrids.

Because of this, it led to a lot of room for multicolor cards as I had room to put some cards into color combinations like GW which had 2 hybrids and I cut a lot of chaff from the colorless section for it, as well as adding some lands to strengthen aggressive decks.

When the dust settles, I’ll likely keep Kozilek as an Eldrazi to ramp into/cheat for those kinds of decks, as having 2 was overkill and Ulamog’s contribution % wasn’t that high. Xenagos is yet another 4-drop for Gruul, but a solid addition. It can’t defend itself but LOL at gruul decks blocking. I’m going to give Steam Augury some time to see whether it’s better or worse than Fire//Ice.

Azorius Chancery -> Mystic Gate
Dimir Aqueduct -> Sunken Ruins
Simic Growth Chamber -> Flooded Grove
Golgari Rot Farm -> Twilight Mire

I also decided to take out most of the bouncelands to add filters; as the hitting UU in blue decks is pretty clutch for countermagic and hitting BB in Golgari is helpful for all of the BB and BBB spells (as I take Fetid Heath quite highly in BW decks.) Overall, I’m happy with how the changes work and I’ll likely be tinkering with the hybrid section more to look at how the decks perform, but with the overall changes I’m happy with how it’s affected my meta.


In other news, I got my Coalition Relic signed by Donato Giancola when he was at Archon this weekend. “Why would you have him sign an ugly Co Relic with a line through it?” Well, it has some personal significance because I got it on the cheap when the STL WMCQ happened and I cubed with Zac Hill and Craig Wescoe and it was pretty sweet. Seeing someone draft a Birthing Pod deck with all modern creatures and mostly old spells got me to thinking of how cube is “mostly new creatures, mostly old spells” as well. 🙂


Posted October 7, 2013 by Usman in List Updates, Uncategorized, Usman's Cube

One response to “Theros and whatnot update

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  1. Nice update. A lot of movement. I like Snakeform as my UG Hybrid. Never really thought of Cold-Eyed Selkie (ugh) into that spot.
    Champion of the Parish is an addition Im making on my list too. Lets see how relevant the Humans build can be.

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