Monthly Archives: June 2014

Card-by-card updates in the pP Cube

This weekend I made some card-by-card changes to the pP cube. This post will describe my thinking besides some of those changes.

Out: Ghoulcaller’s Bell
In: Relic of Progenitus

Ghoulcaller’s Bell was in the cube originally to provide reusable mill. It also provided the sometimes upside of milling yourself. It was mostly redundant with Jace’s Erasure. It is vulnerable to just about as much removal as Erasure. At the core, Erasure is a better fit in the decks that want it (since they will want to be drawing cards anyway, which could result it more than one mill in a turn) while there is virtually no deck that could capitalize on milling yourself and milling your opponent. Plus, there are many better artifacts to include. Relic of Progenitus is an excellent sideboard card. Reanimation effects can be very strong in the cube and this artifact can help keep them in check. The cube has a lot of flashback cards and self-mill strategies are relevant. Tortured Existence is being brought into the cube and Relic might be necessary to keep that card in check.

Out: Bladed Pinions
In: Viridian Longbow

Bladed Pinions suffers from not granting an increase to power. In the artifact deck, many of the strongest threats already have evasion. The 2 to cast and 2 to equip is too expensive to really fit into an aggressive U/W deck. Viridian Longbow is a much better piece of equipment. 1 to cast allows it to be a turn 1 play in decks that don’t have them. The three to equip is expensive, but the effect is pretty great. As I’ve mentioned before, there are many creatures with toughness 1 in the cube. After you have killed all toughness 1 creatures, your creature can start pinging players.

Out: Arcbound Wanderer
In: Sliver Construct

Arcbound Wanderer was originally included to help encourage domain decks. While 6 mana for a 5/5 might be a good deal, it would be very difficult for that deck to capitalize on the Modular. I doubt it could see play in any other deck and in other decks it could rarely hope to be more than a 6 mana 2/2. For this reason, I took it out in place of Sliver Construct. Like Arcbound Wanderer, Sliver Construct excels in a particular deck (Slivers), but is much more playable in decks beyond the Sliver deck. I chose Sliver Construct because it is a more reliable card than Metallic Sliver and fits into the Sliver curve better than Venser’s Sliver.

Out: Arcbound Bruiser
In: Scuttlemutt

As a 5 mana 3/3, Arcbound Bruiser is very unexciting in the cube. As said about Arcbound Wanderer, the artifact deck would find it difficult to capitalize on the modular of a such an expensive creature. Arcbound Worker and Stinger are much more aggressively costed. Scuttlemutt is a much more versatile card. It acts as somewhat of a mana-rock. A 2/2 is a fine body. Not to be overlooked is the ability to change a creature’s color. This helps protect your creatures from Doom Blade, Terror, Snuff Out, among other spells.

Out: Deathcult Rogue
In: Carnophage

Deathcult Rogue was taken out for a few reasons. As a hybrid card, it was taking up space in the U/B section of the cube that it had no place in. Most of the time it is a 2/2 unblockable, so as an evasive creature, it did its job well. However, finding evasion in U/B is not particularly difficult. Carnophage was included to encourage more aggressive black decks. The Zombie creature type is relevant. Black was also more lacking in playable one drops than black or blue in three drops.

Out: Spread the Sickness
In: Death Denied

Spread the Sickness was taken out for the reasons mentioned in the article about B/G Infect. There is already plenty of removal in the cube, so instead of replacing Spread the Sickness with removal, I opted for a return-from-graveyard spell which the cube did not have many of. The cube did have graveyard recursion, but that was mostly tacked onto creatures like Gravedigger, Ghoul Raiser, and Desecrator Hag. There was some Zombie graveyard recursion with Cruel Revival and Ghoulcaller’s Chant. As far as spells go, there are about four that are most commonly used in cubes. Death’s Duet is the most simple of them and the cheapest way to get its effect. Font of Return grabs more creatures, but costs more, usually over the course of two turns. Urborg Uprising was the most appealing of the spells I did not use. For five mana you get two creatures back and replace the card. While five mana is a lot, the card is nothing but value. The higher mana cost was fine by me, since the more aggressive decks already have creature based recursion. I wanted a graveyard recursion option for more controlling decks who use it to get back creatures it has traded off through the course of the game. This is why I decided on Death Denied. For the same cost of Urborg Uprising, you could return three creatures to your hand, at a smaller total mana expense then Font of Return. The upside of getting more creatures back later in the game helped Death Denied get included over Urborg Uprising.

Out: Quag Sickness
In: Liliana’s Specter

Both of these cards belong in the mono-black archetype. Quag Sickness, while decent removal in M14 limited, does not hold a candle to most of the removal in the cube, which is already plentiful. Liliana’s Specter provides some discard which black does not have in abundance in the current iteration of the cube. The two black mana symbols help get devotion up for Gray Merchant and the two power flying body makes for a good evasive attacker. The one toughness keeps the card from being too dominant, while the three CMC helps make it a great package deal.

Out: Shivan Zombie
In: Vengeful Dead

Agonizing Demise was moved to the Rakdos section of the cube, replacing Shivan Zombie. In the place that Agonizing Demise left I brought in Vengeful Dead. For a cube with a Zombie archetype, I don’t know why it took so long for me to include this in the deck. Vengeful Dead is exactly what the archetype is looking for. Much like Carnage Gladiator in Dragon’s Maze, this card deincentivizes what your opponent needs to do to survive an aggressive zombie assault. Combined with the graveyard recursion in zombies, Vengeul Dead can be a great asset to the deck. Shepherd of Rot is a creature that I am currently considering including. The only reason I am apprehensive is because of cards like Carnophage, Sangrophage, and Zombie Cutthroat that cost you life already and that make Shepherd of Rot a dicey inclusion.

Out: Jhessian Zombies
In: Viscera Dragger

Like Deathcult Rogue, Jhessian Zombies just did not cut it in the Blue/Black section of the cube. Viscera Dragger is a good replacement. It can cycle, if the creature is not relevant. It has a cheap Unearth cost, which can allow it to be part of a game winning attack or as a way to force some extra damage earlier. Zombie is a relevant creature type. All in all, a 4 mana for a 3/3 in black is not a terrible creature, even without all its benefits.

Out: Desecrator Hag
In: Llanowar Dead

Desecrator Hag was the worse of the gravedigger effects in the cube. The fact that it does not always allow you to choose the creature you want is a serious strike against it. Llanowar Dead fit well into the B/G midrange decks that are commonly drafted. As a 2 mana 2/2 it can be a beater early in the game or ramp as a mana producer. The bottom line is that the common B/G multicolor/off-color cards are not that spectacular and Llanowar Dead has a more unique ability than Desecrator Hag.

Out: Goblin Outlander
In: Strangling Soot

Goblin Outlander was mostly a difficult to cast goblin in a deck where not being able to cast two drops can quickly lose you the game. To replace the creature, I brought in another excellent R/B removal spell, Strangling Soot. It can kill virtually any creature in an aggressive deck and can do that twice. Strangling Soot can help remove blockers for an aggressive deck OR kill aggressive creatures in a R/B control deck.

Out: Soul Link
In: Purge the Profane

The B/W section of the cube was surprisingly hard to fill after the extort creatures and removal, there was not much else. Soul Link is not an impressive enchantment and suffers from all the problems that auras do. Purge the Profane fits much better into the B/W attrition deck. Having said that, the next time they print some B/W cards at common, I am going to be looking to replace this.

Out: Carrion Thrash
In: Jund Hackblade

Three color cards are always difficult to pull off in the cube. Each Shard only have four cards available to it, five if you consider the Resounding cycle eligible. The Sojourners cycle has cards of varying quality. The resounding cycle is mostly not cubable. The blade cycle is more appealing since it has hybrid costs and the cube already plays a certain amount of multi-colored creatures. Carrion Thrash was orignally included since it fit well into the Jund sac deck, being a good creature to sacrifice itself and allowing you to get another creature back in the process. For five mana, the 4/4 body is nothing to write home about and making it die can be difficult. Jund Hackblade helps replace some of the Red/Black creatures that I had moved out of the cube. It can be a second Goblin Deathraiders and Goblin is a great creature type to be.

Out: Birchlore Rangers
In: Elvish Aberration

Birchlore Rangers and Nettle Sentinels form a great combo in pauper Elves and their inclusion in the cube was help resemble that part of the deck. Unfortunately, a since Birchlore Rangers and a single Nettle Sentinel do not form a great combo. Elvish Aberration is a recent shift to common. Forestcycling makes the six drop relevant in the early game. Tapping for three can help boost the strength of X spells or power out expensive creatures like Ulamog’s Crusher. The 4/5 body is also much larger than most creatures and can help stop most ground assaults.

Out: Chatter of the Squirrel
In: Imperiosaur

Chatter of the Squirrel was part of the Naya army deck. I have decided to shift that type of deck more towards white. Of the three colors, Green has the least ability to capitalize on multiple creature tokens so I decided to shift some of the token generating cards into more traditional green beaters like Imperiosaur. While you can’t ramp it out with mana elves, a 5/5 for four is still a great deal. Many of the other green creatures around that point in the curve are only four power, so Imperiosaur truely reigns in its slot.

Out: Pistus Strike
In: Mutagenic Growth

In the B/G Infect post I mentioned why I will be removing Pistus Strike and why I will be adding Mutagenic Growth.

Out: Scatter the Seeds
In: Primal Huntbeast

Scatter the Seeds was another card that was part of the Naya army archetype. I replaced it here with Primal Huntbeast. The G/W auras deck could use a creature with more power and toughness that is not a bad draw later in the game. Outside of that archetype, a 3/3 Hexproof is a very durable creature.

Out: Treetop Scout
In: Quirion Ranger

Treetop Scout was included as an evasive early drop for the G/W Auras deck, but without hexproof it was mostly a vulnerable creature. The other deck it was considered for was Elves, as a good target for a big Timberwatch Elf. The fact of the matter is that if you have enough elves for a big Timberwatch pump, you can usually attach with enough elves to force through one that you can pump. In the elf deck, Quirion ranger can put in more work, with the idea untap targets being Priest of Titania or Timberwatch Elf. You can use its ability to activate the landfall on Steppe Lynx and Plated Geopede indefinitely. You can also do the Kor Skyfisher trick of tapping the land for mana, returning the land, playing it again and tapping for mana. At the least, it can be used to give one of your creatures psuedo-vigilance.

Out: Vitalize
In: Wickerbough Elder

Vitalize is a card whose potential was never realized in the cube. Perhaps one day I may bring it in, since it fits the hard to fill slot of ‘Green spell that is not pump, ramp, or artifact/enchantment destruction.’ I brought in Wickerbough Elder for a few reasons. A) The cube needs more creatures in general, so bringing in a creature over a spell was a goal. B) It fills the roll of being a large creature while also destroying artifacts/enchantments. C) If its good enough for the MTGO Cube, it is good enough for the pP Cube.

Out: Leonin Armorguard
In: Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi

Leonin Armorguard was another card that was supporting the Naya army archetype that was being removed in this iteration of the cube. I brought in Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi. While at eight mana it is not the most efficiently costed creature, it is hard to argue with its stats. As a 4/7, it can block any creature in the cube on the ground besides Ulamog’s Crusher and Ruination Wurm. Most of the creatures it blocks it will kill. The thing that really distinguishes Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi is its Vigilance, which allows it to use its 4 power body to great effect. Of course the downside is not being able to block fliers, but there are enough spiders in the cube that G/W has plenty of options for that. Another nice advantage of Guardian of Vitu-Ghazi is that it blocks Guard of the Guildpact profitably.

Out: Rhox Bodyguard
In: Ray of Revelation

Rhox Bodyguard did a lot of things I liked. It had exalted, it gained some life when it came in. A 2/3 is a fine body for the cube. But at five mana across two colors, its casting cost did not warrant what you got from the card. Ray of Revelation was brought in because I love flashback.

Out: Thatcher Revolt
In: Assault Strobe

Thatcher Revolt is too expensive for its effect. Perhaps if you kept the tokens the card would be playable, but most decks would be able to block any damage Thatcher Revolt would do. To capitalize on the number of attacking creatures you would need to cast a Fortify or Trumpet Blast, which puts you at seven mana for the turn, well outside of a desirable situation for an aggressive red deck. Assault Strobe came in to help the Kiln Fiend deck and any other red deck with evasive creatures.

Out: Icefall
In: Dead // Gone

In many non-pauper cubes, land destruction is an important part of the aggressive red strategy. Unfortunately, the quality of land destruction at common is pretty terrible. I have decided to stop chasing that dragon and removed the mediocre LD from the cube. In its place I bought in the only common split card, Dead // Gone. Dead is a perfectly fine card on its own. Combined with the effect of Gone, which is an effect that red never gets, Dead // Gone is a versatile red card.

Out: Seismic Strike
In: Flaring Pain

Seismic Strike (while probably the best of the LD spells) is out for the same reasons that Icefall is out. Flaring Pain is in because it is an interesting sideboard card. Some of Flaring Pain’s uses in the cube include dealing damage to a Guardian of the Guildpact or negating the effects of Moment’s Peace or Haze Frog. It is also great against Prismatic Strands, which is currently on the cube’s shortlist.

Out: Caterwauling Boggart
In: Goblin Sledder

Caterwauling Boggart was simply too slow for the goblin deck. While the effect was quite nice, four mana for a 2/2 goblin was not good enough. Goblin Sledder on the other hand, it hyper aggressive.It makes good use of Dragon Fodder and Krenko’s Command tokens. A staple of pauper goblin decks, the only reason it is in the cube over Mogg raider is because I have a foil version of it. I may soon add Mogg Raider to the cube if the deck needs more redundancy.

Out: Spark Elemental
In: Rukh Egg

Spark Elemental is just not as good as I thought it was. Simple as that. Rukh Egg, on the other hand, is way awesome. It fits well into the Jund sac deck and is also a good finisher for a controlling red deck. A 4/4 flier is about as big a flier as one can get at common and as close to a dragon as red is going to get at common.

Out: Fire Elemental
In: Stingscourger

This was not a good update for elementals apparently. Fire Elemental is a fine five drop, but fine dosen’t cut it. For large red creatures, one can look to R/G. Five is a bit too much for an aggressive deck and a 5/4 is not big enough for the ramping red decks. Stingscourger fits nicely into the goblin deck. Its ETB effect can get a blocker out of the way and it can be sac’ed for various effects if you don’t plan on paying the echo cost.

Out: Arc Runner
In: Suq’ata Lancer

Arc Runner and Suq’ata Lancer fill similar roles, but excel in different situations. An Arc Runner onto a board with no blockers is a cheap lava axe, but as soon as your opponent has any block, it decreases in quality considerable. A Youthful Knight is an Arc Runner’s worst enemy. On the other hand, a Suq’ata Lancer onto an empty board does not do a whole bunch of damage. On the other hand, a Suq’ata Lancer can be very difficult to block, particularly in a cube filled with 1 toughness creatures. All in all, I felt that the Suq’ata Lancer was more useful in more situations and is a better inclusion.

Out: Colossal Might
In: Ancient Grudge

Colossal Might was included to add some variety and combat tricks to the cube. Since the first iteration of the cube, many more combat tricks have been added so Colossal Might does need to fill that void. The decks that would play Colossal Might usually don’t need help getting past opposing creatures anyway. Ancient Grudge is an excellent sideboard card in pretty much every format that it is legal. Red was lacking a simple shatter-esque effect and Ancient Grudge is a great way to help fill that void.

Out: Mindsculpt
In: Artful Dodge

Mindsculpt is not the type of milling card that the cube needs anymore, so it was a pretty easy cut. Artful Dodge is include since blue lack and evasion-granting spell. It also fits well into the R/U stormish decks.

Out: Induce Paranoia
In: Force Spike

Induce Paranoia is out following the adjustments to the U/B deck. I wanted to replace it with a counter-spell, but one that was not restricted in its target. Force Spike seemed like a fine counterspell to bring in.

Out: Drowner Initiate
In: Man-o-War

Drowner Initiate is out because of the adjustments to the U/B deck. Man-o-War is a card that I have been trying to find the space for for a while. Not much needs to be said for this cube staple.

Out: Merfolk Mesmerist
In: Spellstutter Sprite

Merfolk Mesmerist was too similar to Vedalken Entrancer, a card that does not need many copies in the cube. Spellstutter Sprite is a staple of the mono-blue Delver decks in Pauper. While not as strong in cube since it lacks the redundancy it has in constructed, there are still faeries in the cube, including Pestermite, Cloud of Faeries, Faerie Invaders, and Sentinels of Glen Elendra. Even a Spellstutter Sprite onto an empty board may nab a relevant spell (ideally a Lightning Bolt or another counterspell).

Out: Voyage’s End
In: Vapor Snag

This was a very easy swap. The Scry 1 that Voyage’s End has is not work the extra mana. The life loss is mostly an upside for Vapor Snag, even though there are some moments when you want to unsummon your own creature.

Out: Steel of the Godhead
In: Dismantling Blow

Steel of the Godhead was included for the Hexproof deck, where the deck would not be able to capitalize on the unblockable half of the aura. So where as Steel of the Godhead would rarely get the full effect of the spell, many people who bring Dismantling Blow in post-board will be impressed at how much this card rocks. It can help control and early artifact or enchantment that is dominating (Bonesplitter or Armadillo Cloak), while casting it late in the game can really shift the momentum, particularly if you can use it in combat to kill an opponent’s creature.

Out: Hindering Light
In: Glassdust Hulk

Hindering Light was rarely more than a difficult to cast and situational counterspell.  These two downsides spelled doom for Hindering Light. Glassdust Hulk works as a great finisher in the U/W artifact deck. With a critical mass of artifacts,  this guy can attack as a 4 power unblockable creature to finish out an opponents life total, that is ideally low thanks to an aggressive start. Perhaps you are playing Glassdust Hulk in a deck without many artifacts or you are searching for an early land, the 1 mana cycling helps make this card an allstar early and late in the game.

Out: Moment of Silence
In: Apostle’s Blessing

Fog effects by themselves are not very good. While Moment’s Peace has flashback and Haze Frog makes a creature, Moment of Silence is just a fog. Apostle’s Blessing is a much higher pick and will see play in more decks thanks to the Phyrexian mana cost. Traditionally in Pauper, Apostle’s Blessing is used in aggressive decks to provide evasion. Here it will serve that role in Infect and U/R.

Out: Congregate
In: Attended Knight

Life gain for the sake of life gain (even when it is as much as Congregate can be) is not a great use of a card. It made sense swapping out Congregate for a more aggressive creature, like Attended Knight. For 3 mana you get three power and toughness across two creatures. Even better, two of that power has first strike.

Out: Ronom Unicorn
In: Coalition Honor Guard

I was already running three versions of Kami of Ancient Law, so cutting back seemed fine. As this post has shown, I brought in plenty of enchantment removal in this update so cutting down on Kamis of Ancient Law is fine. Coalition Honor Guard is a card I had overlooked previously, but comes highly recommended by Pauper Cube enthusiasts. The more you look at the card the more you realize its potential. Casting one of these protects your creatures from almost all forms of Blue, White, and Red removal. Black and Green must use their previous removal spells to kill the honor guard before using a spell on the creature they wanted to kill in the first place. All this on a 2/4 body for 4 makes Coalition Honor Guard a card that I will be watching closely.

Out: Soul Warden
In: Custodi Squire

I talked about my eagerness to cut Soul Warden and Soul’s Attendant in the post about White 1 drops. Finding another white 1 drop to replace it was difficult, so I instead went in the other direction and went with Custodi Squire, a new pauper cube staple. The 3/3 flying body is a great threat and the added upside of returning a creature/enchantment/artifact makes Custodi Squire one of the quality white finishers.

Out: Angelic Renewal
In: Empyrial Armor

Angelic Renewal is an interesting enchantment. It works like a flicker, but one you can only use on a creature as it dies. While creative deck builders would take advantage of this by using flicker effects, spending two mana to deploy an enchantment that could be destroyed before effecting the game is not an appealing prospect. Empyrial Armor is a heinous common. One of the few commons deemed so format warping that it had to become an uncommon in Vintage Masters, Empyrial Armor is a great way to give your hexproof auras deck some much needed power.

Out: Keening Apparition
In: Kor Sanctifiers

Keening Apparition was taken out for the same reason that Ronom Unicorn was taken out. Kor Sanctifiers was brought in because it fills the same role as a creature that can destroy an enchantment, but it also can destroy artifacts. Plus the 2/3 body is a much better blocker.

Out: Wall of Glare
In: Loyal Cathar

A defender without power (even one that can block any number of creatures) doesn’t do a whole lot to halt a dedicated attack. Loyal Cathar can block and if it dies will come back as a decent aggressive creature. The only deck that really wanted Wall of Glare was the B/W drain deck, but that deck already has plenty of early drops to help defend from aggressive decks. Loyal Cathar fits better into the aggressive decks that most white decks end up being.

Out: Soul’s Attendant
In: Troubled Healer

As mentioned in the White 1 drop post, I was eager to replace Soul’s Attendant. Troubled Healer is another card that comes highly recommended by the pauper cube community and one that is untested in my cube. Unlike Coalition Honor Guard, whose upside become apparent quickly, Troubled Healer is a card I still haven’t figured out yet. Perhaps I will need to play with it first to uncover how strong it is.

 

 

B/G Infect in the pP Cube

One of the newest additions to the cube is the B/G Infect deck. When I decided to add the archetype I took inspiration from the infect decks in Pauper. Most of the pauper decks were mono-green decks but I needed infect to fill the B/G void left by the madness deck. With many common options for the infect deck, black was the logical choice. Both Green and Black were lacking aggressive decks and infect lended itself to a very aggressive strategy.

Creatures
Glistener Elf: The be all end all of the infect. As a one drop, this one drop makes turn two kills possible, albeit with a very specific selection of spells. Glistener Elf was an obvious inclusion.
Blight Mamba: The second best thing to Glistener Elf. Its regeneration makes him a more appealing target for auras.
Cystbearer: To have the redundancy needed to be a viable deck in the cube, a certain level of creatures with infect is needed. As a 3 drop the creature is not ideal for an aggressive strategy, but it will do in a pinch. It also can block well against aggressive decks, even in non infect decks.
Contagious Nym: Mainly included as a way to increase the overall infect count in the cube, it is also a Zombie.
Plague Stinger: A 1/1 body is not impressive, but the built-in evasion immensely helps infect against green decks with large creatures on the ground but without anyway to block the air.
Blackcleave Goblin: Definitely the weakest of the infect creatures. The addition of haste is not irrelevant and may sometimes allow you to steal a poison win in a race.
Ichorclaw Myr: The one power may not seem like much, but its ability give it good pseudo-evasion. There are not many creatures that can block a 3/3 infect and remain relevant, let alone survive.
Llanowar Augur: While this creature does not have infect, I have seen many pauper decks run Llanowar Augur as another pump spell, but one that grants trample. I have no decided if I want to include the augur or not, but it is a card I have my eye on.

 

Pump Spells
Giant Growth: Giant Growth is the classic pump spells. One mana for +3/+3 is very efficient and goes in many decks beyond the infect deck.
Groundswell: If +3/+3 is good,  then how about +4/+4? In the infect deck, groundswell is ideally a turn three or four play, when you should still be hitting your lands, so getting to +4/+4 is not unreasonable.
Vines of Vastwood: VoV is a common card used in infect and green stompy decks. The +4/+4 for two mana is relevant, but the main use of this card is for the hexproof. It can be a nasty surprise for a deck that is hoping to kill your attacking creature.
Invigorate: In a non-infect deck, Invigorate is not an appealing card. While a free card, getting a net of one damage is not impressive. In Infect, the opponent’s life gain is irrelevant and the +4 power for free is HUGE. So huge, that this card is banned in constructed pauper.
Mutagenic Growth: I haven’t put Mutagenic growth into the cube yet. It is mostly a matter of finding a slot for it. A free +2/+2 is great in infect and pretty good in most other decks. In the next update I will probably bring this in. I am not sure what I will be replacing yet, but I will try to find a place.
Rancor: Already an auto-include in the cube for the G/W Auras deck, rancor does great work in the infect deck as well. The trample is very relevant here. The ability to get it back is also very important, since you may end up making some suicide attacks in the infect deck.
Consume Strength: While it doesn’t appear in many constructed decks, Consume strength works great in the cube archetype. It pumps for +2/+2 which is a lot when you are trying to get to 10. I think its biggest draw is the -2/-2 which can help get a blocker out of the way early in the game.

 

Other Cards to Consider
Scavenge creatures: Sluiceway Scorpoion, Sewer Shambler, and Drudge Beetle all become a bit better when they are scavenge onto a creature with infect (ideally one with evasion, like Plague Stringer). Cards like Grisly Salvage can help put them into the graveyard, or you can use an ability like Wild Mongrel’s to discard scavenge cards.

Equipment: Equipment like Leonin Scimitar and Bonesplitter are great in any infect based strategy.

 

Pistus Strike and Spread the Sickness: Originally I included these cards for the infect archetype. After some consideration, the slight boost these cards give is not enough to compensate for the considerable downside compared to similar cards when not used in the infect deck.

The Blue/Black deck in the pP Cube

When I first created the U/B archetype I focused on making a mill deck. U/B has become the color of milling and it seemed like an easy enough archetype that has plenty of support at common. I used many of the Dimir cards from Gatecrash as a foundation for the archetype. In the first few drafts of the cube, I did play some cards like Tome Scour and Dreadwaters which did nothing besides mill. These cards frequently went very late in the draft and even in the deck that wanted them, they were not impressive. The cards that had functions outside of pure mill (Grisly Spectacle, Psychic Strike, and Induce Paranoia) were more playable and may occasionally get use outside of a pure mill strategy, but they suffered as much worse versions of the cards they were emulating (Induce Paranoia vs Counterpsell, for example). This created poor draft experiences which I hoped to avoid. Mill also suffered from the classic problem that until you mill the last card, all of that effort was for naught. This is why repeatable draft abilities (like Vedalken Entrancer and Jace’s Erasure) were much better win cons.

To me, the really interested U/B decks that sprung up in the cube were more reanimator-ish decks that took advantage of cards like Makeshift Mauler, Stitched Drake, and Ghoulraiser. For this reason, I wanted to change the focus away from mill as a win condition to mill as a way to create resources, but I still wanted mill as a win condition to be an option for more controling decks. The obvious answer is to only have mill cards that allow you to mill yourself as well as your opponent. This allows cards like Vedalken Entrancer, Jace’s Erasure, and Merfolk Mesmerist to remain in the deck as win conditions for control decks or utility cards for self-mill decks. This also helps give Archaeomancer and Mnemonic Wall more of a home. In the new draft of the archetype I prioritized cards with Flashback. I already love Flashback as a mechanic and it helps provide more value for spells that are milled. Cards like Death’s Approach and Grisly Spectacle would have to go, to be replaced by better removal, or for black utility spells (since the cube already has plenty of premium removal spells).

To reflect these changes, I made the following changes:

Death’s Approach -> Removed for Tortured Existence. Tortured Existence comes highly recommended among those who Pauper Cube and exists in some fringe pauper decks. I currently don’t have any particular deck in mind for this card, but I am excited to see what is created from it.

Induce Paranoia -> Removed for Force Spike. I wanted to replace a counter spell with another counter spell that had the same range of targets, so I thought Force Spike would be a good inclusion.

Grisly Spectacle -> Eyeblight’s Ending. Both of these spells kill almost the same creatures. Eyeblight’s Ending costs one less black mana and can be tutored up with Wirewood Herald. Of all the replacements this is the most experimental.

Mind Sculpt -> Removed for Artful Dodge. I have been meaning to find a space for Artful Dodge in the cube to help the Storm-ish archetype. One with flashback only helps U/B.

Psychic Strike -> Removed for Forbidden Alchemy. Psychic Strike is removed for the aforementioned reasons. Forbidden Alchemy helps encourage the mill deck, can help dig for combo pieces in other decks, and has Flashblack.

Jhessian Zombies -> Removed for Viscera Dragger. I am a sucker for cards with many modes. I love the combination of Cycling and Unearth. Unearth plays well into the U/B self-mill.Viscera Dragger also comes highly recommended by the cube community.

Deathcult Rogue -> Removed for Carnophage. Unlike in Gatecrash, there weren’t may ways to take advantage of Deathcult Rogue’s virtual unblockability. Carnophage is a more relevant creature type and helps support a more aggressive black deck that I am trying to support.