Finally, the third edition! I literally just opened up my new computer, went to Open Office, opened up the whole set for Future Sight, and started writing this article. There were tons of things I could’ve done first—facebook, porn, check my e-mail, waste time on reddit, porn—and instead, I sat down for this. I feel bad for not getting any writing up on the site; while I didn’t have my computer, I picked up a severe yu-gi-oh addiction, freebasing Japanese Blue Eyes Ultimate Dragons with Armor at my local LGS. It was a dark week. BUT, let’s move onto the hindsight set review!
Akroma’s Memorial: The memorial has probably never seriously been considered for a cube except for the largest, but it’s a pretty cool one regardless and a decent budget option for big artifacts. Turning all your creatures in Akromas is pretty sweet, as it’s tough to stop an army with those stats. Akroma’s Memorial is a pretty sucky tinker target, though—you likely won’t have much for other creatures, and having your memorial get disenchanted when it first enters isn’t exactly what you want. I can’t really recommend this for many cubes, but if you’re just starting to build one and have a copy lying around, throw it in and see if you playgroup likes it.
Aven Mindcensor: The MTGO cube ran this; I think it’s a pretty terrible option. One of the biggest problem with the MTGO cube is that there are too many sideboard-only cards. There are cards that will be good in certain match ups, but when the pool is full of them then the quality of all 8 of the decks in the draft will suffer as the ends of packs are full of unplayed archetype filler and sideboard cards no one is really interested in. It’s not that they’re useless, and in cube it’s often that you’ll have more options than you can handle, but it’s better to have too many maindeck options as those cards often can be filtered in as sideboard cards against other decks, fulfilling the role that the sideboard-only cards tend to keep. Also, when you run these sideboard-only cards, you hurt other archetypes by taking a spot that could support them and you end up not playing cards that are great and fighting for a spot. I really hate sideboard-only cards in cube.
If you had to maindeck Mindcensor, something went seriously wrong. While there are a decent amount of cards out there that search your deck in cube, having this card play just as a 2/1 for 2W—which, for all you know, is exactly what the card will play out as. Of course, when Mindcensor is strong, it’s great. Against decks with tutors and a lot of fetches, Mindcensor can be a pseudo counterspell or stifle. If you like to support sideboard-only cards, Mindcensor is a decent option, but that’s a path that I feel falls apart the deeper you get into the rabbit hole.
Blade of the Sixth Pride: This speaks to how much can change in the world of cube in such a short period of time. Blade of the Sixth Pride used to be a fine option, and then Accorder Paladin came out and Blade became unplayable. At least the full-art is sweet.
Bridge from Below: This is, of course, not a cube card, but it’s one of my favorites from a design-perspective. The concept is sweet: creatures go in, zombies come out. Do you think anyone has ever hard-casted this card, just to do it?
Coalition Relic: Wow is Relic crazy. I love big artifact/green ramp decks; casting giant creatures and spells that don’t give your opponent a chance to overcome once they resolve is right up my alley. It’s tough for me to navigate through games with a lot of little decisions, like a lot of games in legacy, but it’s really tough to screw up a Karn or Woodfall Primus. With Relic, it’s so easy to get to those high casting costs. The turn after you play it you’re casting at least 5 drops, 6 drops if you have a land, and for pretty much any color. Coalition Relic was Chromatic Lantern before the Lantern got lit. I would run Relic in any cube in any size; other than power-level cards, it’s one of the best cards in cube.
(Coalition Relic done by Demonium.)
Epochrasite: The MTGO loves this card; I’m indifferent. Epochrasite has been solid when I’ve played with it, and has done some OK stuff, but I’ve never been blow away or completely satisfied when it’s played out. The line of thought has always been “yeah, I played Epochrasite, but I would’ve been OK without it” or “I would’ve any other creature, but this card was OK.” Epochrasite seems like it’d be cool with graveyard/sac/nightmare shenanigans, but 3 turns is a long time to wait for your guy to come back. It’s tough to justify Epochrasite’s spot in the cube in the artifact section when there are so many other stellar options on the wings. In the largest of large lists, I can see playing it.
Foresee: 4 cards deep is pretty deep; 6 is even deeper when you put them all on the bottom. Foresee costs 4 though, and it’s tough to find room for it when blue is so tight in that position. (Every color is a tight fit at CMC 4; that’s the seemingly ‘sweet spot’ of cube.) Cool card, but ultimately doesn’t do enough.
Gathan Raiders: A colorless 5/5 for 3? Count me in! But wait—I need to have no cards in hand? I have a lot of experience playing with and against the Raiders, and it is rarely a 5/5. A cool concept and looks great in theory, but you’ll have a tough time making it better than a 3/3 for 3 and a card from your hand. In graveyard strategies it’s alright, but black already has plenty of options. If you need another discard outlet, try it out, but don’t keep your hopes high.
Gravern Cairns: Looking through this set and seeing which of the alternate-border cards came to fruition is pretty neat. It’s sweet to see their original intentions, find the new version, and see how they changed the flavor. Cairns was originally a vampire haven and then turned into a run-down Stonehenge in Shadowmoor. Whatever works. The filter lands are neat, but having the complete cycle in most mid-to-smaller size cubes is unnecessary. Between the ABU duals, ravnica duals, M12 duals, and MBS duals, how much do you really need? If you have them and that’s it, they’re perfectly OK, but running the complete cycle is icing. Some cubes run the W/B version because of all the BB/WW cards; take a look at your cube if this interests you.
Horizon Canopy: I love this card. Paying a life to add G or W is fine when you can cycle this on the board for a card. A card for a land—who cares? Life from the Loam, Crucible of Worlds, Sun Titan, they care. As a basic cycler in what is a fairly aggressive color combination is perfectly fine and much appreciated, but once you can abuse Canopy and keep on bringing it back, it’s tough to lose.
Magus of the Moon: Sideboard cards are pretty awful. Unlike Mindcensor, it’s more often Magus will screw up your opponent’s plans as there are more duals and non-basics in decks than there would be search effects. I still think the card is pretty subpar, as you’re never happy to maindeck it and it’s not even a guarantee to be effective from the sideboard everytime. You might turn that Maze or fetch off, but perhaps they could just use that extra mana regardless. Overall, not the biggest fan, but definitely a better option than Aven Mindcensor.
Pact of Negation: If your playgroup is a bit sloppy, or likes to play take backs, do not run this card because you will lose friends. Playing with these cards on cockatrice is such a pain. “So and so drew a card.” “You lose the game.” “HEY NO LEMME PAY IT!” “Dude—it says pay at the beginning of the upkeep, or lose the game.” Personally I hate taking back plays—if I screw up, I’ll eat it, because I expect my opponents to never ask either. There’s a reason there are different phases of the game, there is a reason you cast a spell and let your opponent respond. Magic is a complex game where a spell played in one phase can lose you the game and in another phase can win you the match. By asking for take backs or to go back, you negate the hard work and tough decisions your opponent is making in terms of when to pay costs, when to activate cards, if to attack, if to equip before you attack, etc. If you take back one play, where does it stop? Why even bother playing if we’re going to take back our mistakes? You learn from your mistakes; if you didn’t want to make that play, you should have thought about it longer or made a conscious decision not to go through the motions. Believe me, I hate screwing up and making the wrong play as well, but during the game I am constantly running through the lines of play I could take depending on what my opponent could have and what they’ve done so I minimize these mistakes. I still screw up a decent amount, but by focusing on the game at hand I minimize the collateral damage suffered from my own misplays and end up less surprised by what my opponent can throw at me so I’m not off kilter and can think with a straight head instead of “oh shit, that’s a batterskull…what do I do now?”
Back to Pact…I think this card is alright. If you support storm combo is becomes a lot better, as it’s nice to have a free answer to what they have while you’re going off. Otherwise, 3UU is a lot to pay for a counter, and while it’s sweet to have it, you’re pretty much getting time walked in the mana department. I’d run this card in the largest of cubes, or if you’re crazy and support Hivemind combo…well, those people don’t exist…I think.
Also, excuse the excessive ellipsis.
Slaughter Pact: I’d rather have a free counterspell than a free doom blade. Too many other good black kill spells to run this one.
Tarmogoyf: A lot of players new to cube will over value ‘goyf, and understandably. Goyf, in eternal formats, is crazy. He often is no less than a 3/4 for 1G, and easily reaches a 5/6 in a lot of those matches. It’s the reason a lot of the eternal decks even run green to begin with, and the reason he’s called “the best blue creature ever printed” with a smirk.
In cube, he’s not as good. I mean, he’s great—a big, massive body for 1G will always be nice—but he’s just not exciting. Seeing a goyf early in a pack is no signal to me one way or another if I’m playing with players who are familiar with the format. You can’t build a deck around goyf, and you’ll have no problem finding beaters in cube. He deals a shit ton of damage for 2 mana, which in a vacuum is probably the most out of any of the cube cards, but I’m not willing to pick it super high unless I’m already playing a deck Tarmogoyf will be nice in.
Tombstalker: In control decks, the Stalker is an awesome finisher. Your graveyard will be full and he’ll land for BB and a bunch of cards from your yard, allowing you to keep counter and removal magic open. Sometimes he’s uncastable, and playing a 5/5 flier for 6BB is super sucky, but at an average of 2BB for the cost he’s really nice.
Venser, Shaper Savant: First off, it’s funny that you can have both creature Venser and Planeswalker Venser in play at the same time. In terms of the card, Venser is awesome and one of those reasons that Foresee is unplayable. Venser is the rare counterspell card that isn’t dead when you can’t counter anything, and once you can start sharding or Vensering him, he becomes seriously absurd. Venser essentially says “Return target Magic Card to its owner’s hand.” Lands, spells, planeswalkers, creatures—they all answer to Venser. His body is about what you’d expect on such a powerful creature, and if you have a sword and an open path on the field, you can play him at EOT and get a swing in. Venser is another of the all-size cube cards, in my opinion.
Overall, the block is pretty good. A lot of the cards have been outclassed, and a lot of them are on the way out, but there are plenty of staples and plenty of great cards for the larger cubes. It was a lot of fun going through the block, and I can’t wait to do another.