Updates to the Cube (2/20/2015)
After getting in a few more drafts with the cube, I’ve made a few changes.
Out: Hearth Charm, Midnight Charm, Vision Charm, Icatian Javelineers, and Wirewood Herald
In: Hexplate Golem, Mind Stone, Darksteel Ingot, Lurking Automaton, Whispergear Sneak
After a few more drafts I’ve gotten the feedback that it has been hard to get the critical amount of artifacts needed for the U/W artifact deck. The cards taken out are cards that weren’t really pulling their weight. The Charms are the remnants of a failed attempt to find charms worth including in the cube. The Wirewood Herald is also a card included from a much earlier draft of the cube that tried to support a mono-green elf deck. I wanted to cut a card from each color so I could keep the color distribution and Icatian Javelineers seemed like the card that would be least missed. Hexplate Golem is there so that control decks has access to a strong defensive creature that can double as a win-con. Its big enough to survive the fight cards and damaged based removal. It is very expensive, but the next two inclusions help mitigate that somewhat. Mindstone and Darksteel Ingot are two cards that I just didn’t realize were common. Every Mindstone printing (after the first) has been uncommon, so that was one I didn’t realize was eligible for the cube until recently. Similar situation with Darksteel Ingot. Lurking Automaton and Whispergear Sneak are two more conspiracy cards I wanted to include with Cogwork Librarian and Sentinel Dispatch. Knowing that there is only one in the cube makes Lurking Automaton more interesting than in a regular Conspiracy draft. Whispergear Sneak suffers a bit since you can’t crack a pack when you case it. We will see how they go. It may be better to include Cogwork Spy since it is a better body, but I think Whispergear Sneak adds something more interesting to the draft.
Out: Leaf Arrow
In: Return to the Earth
If Leaf Arrow did 4 or 5 damage, it would be a more defensible inclusion. When it comes down to it, Leaf Arrow doesn’t kill Supply Line Cranes or Spire Golem. Green already has plenty of reach creatures and some fight cards, so Leaf Arrow didn’t really have a place in the cube. Return to the Earth makes up in flexibility in what it loses in mana cost.
Out: Gleeful Sabotage
In: Nantuko Vigilante
In the situations where you want to conspire Gleeful Sabotage, taking out two targets seems awesome. Draft scenarios include hitting Myr Enforcer and Armadillo Cloak or something crazy like that. But being a sorcery really makes it suffer. Nantuko Vigilante is a card that is already considered a staple in many pauper cubes. Since I started supporting more morph, including the Vigilante seemed like a no brainer. In addition to that, I generally prefer to have ETB spell like effects on a creature instead of a spell.
Out: Lys Alana Huntmaster
As mentioned in Wirewood Herald, Lys Alana Huntermaster is left over from an attempted Mono-Green Elf deck. It was taken out because there was not a great way to take advantage of the Huntmaster. The CMC of 4 really hurt it. Every other elf (besides Elvish Abberation) cost less than Huntmaster, so the best case scenario for Huntermaster was that he made top-decking a mana elf later in the game less painful. The other Elf Lord-ish cards (Priest of Titania and Timberwatch Elf) can function on their own without being embarrassing while casting Lys Alana Huntermaster as a card to case 4 mana 3/3, is pretty embarrassing. Werebear is just a sweet card. Its mana early and a beater later. There are ways to fill your graveyard in Sultai so getting to threshold is not impossible.
Plummet is too narrow a card for the cube. Green already has access to fit cards and has flying removal with Crushing Vines and Return to the Earth. That is all on top of Sentinel Spider, Somberwald Spider, Nessian Asp, Deadly Recluse, Court Archers, and Penumbra Spider. Trollhide was included to give some more green auras for the White/Green aura deck. I took out Pentarch Ward in favor of a green aura. At common, it doesn’t get much better than Trollhide.
Out: Assault Strobe
In: Temur Battlerage
While Battlerage is not a strictly better Assault Strobe, the one mana difference does not always matter. The situations were you get the trample or use battlerage as a removal spell are much more common that the games that you were able to go off with Assault Strobe because it was only one mana. Temur Battlerage is also a much better card in a pack when there isn’t a Fiend deck at the table.
Out: Seething Song
In: Goblin Heelcutter
Goblin Heelcutter has impressed me in FTF draft so far. Seething Song was rarely a wise card to play. Only the most dedicated stormish/fiend decks wanted Seething Song and it was a dead card in every other deck. Heelcutter has much broader appear. It also helps that he is a goblin.
Out: Goblin Warstrike
In: Mardu Scout
Massive Raid was not good enough to include in the cube and Goblin War Strike is not too different and probably worse than Massive Raid. If the War Strike could hit a player, it would be worse considering. Mardu Scout is another FTF card that has impressed me so far. Dash is surprisingly strong in the late game. A RR 3/1 is pretty good, being able to dash it is better, and being a goblin makes it just good enough to be included.
Out: Thunderscape Apprentice
In: Kuldotha Ringleader
Red at common does not have many stand out cards outside of various burn spells and hasty creatures. Kuldotha Ringleader is a card to include that gives Red something a little big bigger at the top of the curve. It also supports the Red/White tokens theme.
Out: Frogtosser Banneret
In: Sultai Emissary
Reducing the costs of your goblins by 1 looks a lot better than it actually is. A large amount of the goblins in the cube are already 1 mana goblins. The reduction of the cost of rogues is interesting (3 mana for Balustrade Spy or Syndicate Enforcer is more appealing), but not relevant either. Sultai Emissary is most comparable to Butcher Ghoul, but Emissary has the upside of sometimes manifesting a creature. The Emissary going to the graveyard, instead of being bought back like Butcher Ghoul, is also relevant for cards like Ghoulraiser, Ghoulcaller’s Chant, and Cruel Revival.
Out: Gempalm Polluter
In: Shepherd of Rot
If I had an infinite amount of space, I would include both of these cards to help support zombies. Since the Shepherd is a repeatable effect, I think it edges out Gempalm Polluter.
In: Dead Weight
In most situations, Disfigure is the better card. It is difficult to balance the strength of the removal in the cube against the strength of the creatures in the cube, so nerfing some removal is something I am okay with. Dead Weight becomes better in White/Black when you can bring it back with Auramancer or Griffin Dreamfiner or when you can tutor for it with Heliod’s Pilgrim or Totem Guide Hartebeest. Those interactions, in addition to the willingess to lower the power level of removal made this a pretty easy switch.
Out: Cloud of Faeries
In: Looter il-Kor
Cloud of Faeries is not as broken in cube as it is in the pauper constructed decks. In ideal scenarios, you would be above a mana or two, but you still played a 1/1 flying. Looter il-Kor has better evasion and another looting effect helps the Sultai graveyard decks.
Out: Ideas Unbound
In: Treasure Cruise
When people would ask if I included Treasure Cruise, I would say that it isn’t great in the cube because there aren’t a lot of cantrips or fetches that make it excel in older formats. It is still dominate in paper pauper and is pretty good in limited, so I am giving it a try. It is pretty similar to Ideas Unbound, but with the potential upside of drawing three cards without having to discard any.
Out: Vedalken Aethermage
In: Deranged Assistant
Vedalken Aethermage was included more as a novelty than anything. Being able to bounce a sliver has never mattered in any game in the cube yet (though you can construct some situations where you bounce an anthem silver of some sick value). Wizard cycling was helpful to find an Archaeomancer of Izzet Chronarch to help put together some sick combo. Deranged Assistant helps load up your graveyard in the decks that love it or can just help make some quicker mana to play Rotfeaster Maggot, Sentinel Spider, etc.
Out: Ashes to Ashes
In: Sandsteppe Outcast
Kor Santifiers is a better two-for-one artifact removal than Ashes to Ashes is. Ashes to Ashes is just another victim of niche card being taken out for a more accessible card. Sandsteppe Outcast is another great white three drop that makes two decent creatures. The card is great in the R/W decks, but is perfectly fine on its own.
Out: Pentarch Ward
In: Totem-Guide Hartebeest
The Totem-Guide was taken out in an earlier update in favor of Heliod’s Pilgrim. I have come to realize that having both in the cube is perfectly fine. It excels in the same areas as Pilgrim, it helps get removal like Pacifism or Bonds of Faith while grabbing awesome auras like Armadillo Cloak or Rancor. Pentarch Ward was taken out in favor of the Hartebeest because the ward was among the weakest if the auras in the cube. So taking it would for Hartebeest basically gave the decks that would play Pentarch ward a second copy of their best enchantment.