Another pack 1 pick 1, this time with a different cube—mine! After refreshing tappedout.net about 10 times with power finding its way into the pack as the obvious pick all 10 times, I decided to switch over to my unpowered list that I’ve been slowly putting together for years now. At some point during this past summer, I finally pulled the trigger and dismantled my pauper cube, taking all the relevant commons from that and combining them with the cards I’ve gathered for my cube threw trades/draft prizes/etc. The cube is finally at a point where I’m not too embarrassed about its contents. There are still cards I feel like I need to get for it, but it’s at a point where it feels like the power level is where I want it to be. (Note not “powered” but “power level”. I love powered cards and playing with them, but I wanted my cube to be a dedicated unpowered environment, which means no Sol Ring/Mana Vault, even though they are cheap. The ceiling for power level is probably Jitte/Skull clamp/Grim Monolith, amazing cards you’d even take high in a powered environment but able to be dealt with or slow enough to not blow an opponent out consistently on t1-t3.)
This pack contains some stellar cards going in many directions. The cards I’m considering, in no particular order, are: Inferno Titan, Scalding Tarn, Armageddon, Opposition, Wrath of God, Phyrexian Metamorph, Damnation, Zealous Conscripts, Smallpox, and Garruk Wildspeaker. There are a lot of different directions I could go here, and it’s tough to say what I would take first right off the bat.
Inferno Titan is a big beating machine. Easily red’s best finisher, it’s a massive ability that can Wipe Away boards and life points at a reasonable-to-cast cost. If I’m in Wildfire or any big-red strategy where you’re not going aggressive, then Inferno Titan is the finisher I pretty much always want. Big red decks aren’t always popular, and with no Sneak Attack in this cube it’s likely I could even wheel the Inferno Titan with a potentially better red card in the pack. If I’m looking for a finisher here, Inferno Titan is probably my best option, but I’m still less inclined to take red cards early that aren’t super aggressive.
Scalding Tarn is an amazing land since blue decks often want to splash burn for removal, and having fetches is generally a good way to stay open. Not only will Scalding Tarn fit nicely in any blue or red deck that wants to find dual lands, but any random dual lands I pick up with either red or blue will help me fix my mana and make splashes easier. If I have a badlands and I’m playing UB, I play that badlands as it allows my Scalding Tarn to find black mana. Typically I try not to take land fixing this early if there are first-pickable bombs, but I can see the argument of wanting to stay open because it is important to see what people pass to you.
Armageddon hurts. Playing Armageddon and having a way to either have more of a board presence or a way to bring back your gone lands is game-winning. Armageddon is easy to splash, so in green ramp decks or other colored artifact-based ramp deck Armageddon shines. There can be awkward moments where you Armageddon and you don’t instantly win, but that issue seems to be more because of poor application and not really indicative of Armageddon’s power level. Armageddon is one of the better top picks in this pack.
Opposition is a powerful build around effect that is supported within its own colors. Because I run opposition, I’ve decided to add Master of Waves since that’s an automatic 3 tokens. So far in testing I’ve been pretty happy with that couple, as even if they can remove the master you can usually tap down their entire mana base or their entire army, acting as a fog or Time Walk. If my cube was bigger that would be less of a reason to want Opposition, but at around 425 It’s not too unlikely to see both Master of Waves and Opposition in an 8 man draft. Meloku is also here, and nowadays she goes much later than she used to and could be passed to us. Usually I don’t like to force opposition since it can be awkward to make work if blue starts to get cut, though seeing no other solely-blue great cards in this pack could give me reason to pick it.
Wrath of God and Damnation are exactly the same card, but Damnation is the better choice in my opinion if you’re taking a wrath. The reason being that I have many more wrath effects in white than I do black, so if I do end up being in a white control build it’s not like I won’t be able to replicate the general effect of Wrath of God , whereas Damnation is the only pure-wrath that removes creatures. Living Death can sometimes be uncastable, and Death Cloud can require a lot of mana that you can’t afford to use because your hand or lands are needed. I don’t like taking a wrath here because that effect can be found in not only black and white but red as well, but it’s certainly not the worst pick out of the pack.
In most cubes Zealous Conscripts wouldn’t be considered in this spot but I support the Kiki Jiki/Splinter Twin combo, of which Zealous Conscripts is potentially the other half. With either one, Zealous Conscripts targets the Jiki/Twin’d creature, letting you make another copy, then another, then etc. until your opponent realizes your dead. This combo is my favorite to support because it’s easy, the cards involved can be played in non-combo decks, and I only have to include 3-4 meh cards that aren’t even that bad. Outside of that deck Conscripts is amazing as an aggro curve topper to pull away one of their blockers on an alpha strike, or in any mid-range build to pull and equipment or planeswalker over to get a free swing or activate. The best is when an opponent gets their planeswalker to the point where they can ultimate the next turn, and you take it and use it for your own. Thanks!
As an experiment I’ve been trying to support the Pox build, and Smallpox is a nice one there. Smallpox is great because at two mana and hitting everything for one, you can build your board to better abuse the ability. The pox deck is one you really have to go all-in for, but one that can deliver a beating by consistently attacking resources. I don’t think I’d take it here, but people with experience with the Pox build might know its power and take the Smallpox here.
Garruk is my 1b, as I love planeswalkers and he is incredible. As a mega ramp card, Garruk gives you at minimum two free mana. With City of Ass (hopefully coming soon) or bouncelands, Garruk becomes explosive, letting you reach 7-9 mana with easy the turn after casting him. If you need to put the beats then the 3/3s he makes can pack quite a punch, and his Overrun-ultimate is not hard to reach and activate after you play him. I also love green and find myself playing the color a lot, so I don’t really have a problem committing if I’m playing with people I know as they’ll know I play green. I play green a lot.
Phyrexian Metamorph is one of my favorite cards, and probably my pick here. Before I added all the equipment, Metamorph was a lot worse, but the stronger my cube has gotten the strong Metamorph is. There are so many bonkers creatures and equipment, and Metamorph can copy them in any deck. Not only is that effect something I want to use in just about every build I could make from this cube, but Metamorph’s phyrexian mana cost allows that dream to come true. Not only do I think Metamorph is one of the best cards if not the best in this pack, it easily allows us to be the most open. I’ve taken Metamorph highly before, and I believe I’ll be taking it here again.
What would you choose? Let us know in the comments, and thanks for reading!