In my article review of Fate Reforged, I talked about me putting the tri-hybrid cards like Yasova Dragonclaw into my colorless/miscellaneous section. Here, I’ll talk about why.
In the article, I mentioned that due to the hybrid mana, it’s actually easier to cast the tri-color hybrids than traditional tricolors and that they go into 2 guilds. Yasova Dragonclaw, goes into both Gruul and Simic. Multicolors traditionally have had a higher bar to meet because they’re harder to include in decks, as cards like Advent of the Wurm would pretty easily be a cube staple of it cost 2GG or arguably 1GGG, but it’s on the outside looking in on many cubes due to the ridiculous competition. Tri-color hybrids have some of that competition but also have issues where cards are hard to fit into decks.
So, where did I put mine? Well, let’s go down memory lane.
[cue related-but long tangent]
It’s around mid-2007 and Evan Erwin‘s been talking about cube on The Magic Show due to him talking about it and people locally getting into it before that. One of the events that pushed me over the edge to go into budding cube drafter into cube designer was drafting someone else’s cube. I noted that when looking at his list, as well as others, that cards like Kird Ape were put into the red section. This didn’t make sense to me as it was functionally a Gruul card, yet it was taking the slot of a red card, making Gruul slightly better and the other combinations slightly worse. In the grand scheme of things, maybe it didn’t matter that much, but it was something that I didn’t want to do and was the first cube designer to put Kird Ape into the Gruul section. At the time, people thought that I was dumb/nuts but it eventually caught on in some cube circles, but for example, other cubes that utilize traditional literal categorization still have cards like Kird Ape in the red section, like the Magic Online cube.
For a while, I ran a cycle of the tri-color allied cards (shards,) and Wild Nacatl was there, which made sense as it was the best Naya card. However, I eventually started cutting them, eventually going to just Wild Nacatl, Sphinx of the Steel Wind and Nicol Bolas, Planeswalker – then, eventually, dumping the giant robot and then the planeswalker, leaving Wild Nacatl hanging out in her own section, hanging out with the artifacts.
Another thing that I did early in my cube was to challenge the tradition of the original even ratios of creatures and non creatures in WUBRG aside from U (more spells was ok) and creatures (more creatures were ok) which, now that I think about it, means that Mardu was 50/50 and that the sections themselves had to be the same size (artifacts was 50 cards, as were lands, as were red cards) so I was ok with changing the ratios (now white has many more creatures than non-creatures) and even the sections themselves so Wild Nacatl wasn’t necessarily making things go out of whack.
But that’s only half of the story.
When Evan Erwin did his Eventide/Shadowmoor update (I should probably mention that he was a lot more active in cube discussion and was responsible for getting a lot of people into cube, myself included), he added Shadowmoor cards so that they were in their own section. This made sense, because, as I mentioned in my article, hybrid is a boon, not a drawback.
The problem was that there wasn’t enough cards to make the section do much as a lot of the cards weren’t very good. I didn’t enact this, myself, but had I drafted a cube with Dimir Guildmage, I’d have likely ignored it and I assume that I wouldn’t be the only one with that thought.
But, it sprouted a seed in my head. One that wouldn’t blossom for many more years.
Once I started using a spreadsheet to track my cube stats, I wanted to look at how often hybrid cards were playing in their respective pair or in just one of the colors. However, while I started tracking stats on cube cards in other areas, I slacked on looking on hybrid use and didn’t really start to track it until only a few months ago but a while before then, I started looking at hybrid cards and while hybrids were best in their guild, who’s to say that Kitchen Finks isn’t going to be nabbed and use effectively by a Boros deck or even mono-white? It looked like they were used more in mono-color and as such, placed them in their own area with miscellaneous, and once I started getting back on the ball, I started noticing that the data was starting to back up that hypothesis.
It’s a relatively small sample size and one that I’ll continue to track, but it seems to back up the hypothesis that I had, so I’m going to keep this going. Counting each of the colors represented (like Figure of Destiny as a red and a white card,) they’re all tallied about the same with only one of the colors getting 1 more than the others (I think it was white when I last checked.)
So what does this have to do with these new cards?
[end long related tangent]
I’m going to be categorizing them in the miscellaneous section because, for example, Tasigur can go into either Dimir or Golgari (even though it can go into mono-black) and not necessarily Sultai. The other tri-color cards like it, Soulfire Grand Master and the like have followed suit with them being played in decks like Boros/Azorius and not Jeskai. I’m going to make it so that the sections are approximately even (in terms of WUBRG,) but I may include more of one guild if they’re good enough to do so. I hope that the shards are done in this fashion as shards like Jund have pretty meh cards, but at the same time don’t feel the need to complete the cycle if it means putting meh cards in there. I’m still working out exactly what I want to do with the sections as I want more artifacts but I’m pretty happy with how these tri-color hybrids (especially Tasigur, the Golden Fang which has been very solid) in their performance so far. 🙂